Health and safety for older workers
Today’s workforce is likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, which means that many people will need, and want to continue working.
Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of older employees as they have for all their employees.
So this week I thought I should look at this area, the new campaign by the HSE and help employers take older workers into account when considering how to meet their responsibilities.
This week’s 2 recent HSE cases look at accidents that show a complete lack of compliance.
- A 34-year-old employee was attempting to check the condition of the head roller on a bypass conveyor. While doing this his arm became entangled in the machinery and his arm was almost severed. Although his arm was saved, he now has limited movement in his hand.
- The 23 year old worker entered the printing machine to apply thinners to the ink when the machine started. Her head was crushed between the printing pads and the printing table of the machine, fatally injuring her.
Health and safety for older workers
Government predictions are that by 2020 one third of workers will be over 50. People are living longer, and the prospect of 40 years in retirement doesn’t work for individuals, or for the economy as a whole. The EU Employment Strategy promotes the “prolongation of working life” as key actions in making Europe the most competitive economy in the world.
Dispelling the myths
I am sure that you have all heard stories before about how the older workers are a risk to themselves and others but this is not true of all of them. Remember that, because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, most of us will be required to work on well into our 60s or 70s. So perhaps we should dispel some myths
- That instead of being unfit to work due to ageing and ill health, 62 per cent of over 50’s describe themselves as feeling as fit as ever, with structural and (other people’s) attitudinal barriers thwarting their ability to stay involved.
- Some employers can have stereotyped views of the abilities and attitudes of older workers.
- That key elements of cognitive performance important for workplace health and safety, such as intelligence, knowledge, and use of language, do not generally show any marked decrease until after the age of 70.
- Where decline in cognitive abilities such as working memory and reaction time does occur, there is evidence that safe performance of tasks is unlikely to be affected, as older individuals can generally compensate for them with experience, better judgement and job knowledge.
- Strong evidence that, although speed of learning tends to slow with age, older workers can generally achieve a good standard in learning and performing new skills, given additional time and practice.
- Little conclusive evidence that older workers have an increased risk of occupational accidents than younger workers. However, while older workers are generally less likely than younger workers to have occupational accidents, accidents involving them are likely to result in more serious injuries, permanent disabilities or death, than for younger workers. Older workers may experience more slips, trips and falls than younger workers, and recovery following an injury may take longer.
Guidance for employers
Older workers bring a broad range of skills and experience to the workplace and often have better judgement and job knowledge, so looking after their health and safety makes good business sense.
- Review your risk assessment if anything significant changes, not just when an employee reaches a certain age.
- Not assume that certain jobs are physically too demanding for older workers, many jobs are supported by technology, which can absorb the physical strain.
- Think about the activities older workers do, as part of your overall risk assessment and consider whether any changes are needed. This might include:
- allowing older workers more time to absorb health and safety information or training, for example by introducing self-paced training.
- introducing opportunities for older workers to choose to move to other types of work.
- designing tasks that contain an element of manual handling in such a way that they eliminate or minimise the risk.
- Think about how your business operates and how older workers could play a part in helping to improve how you manage health and safety risks. This might include having older workers working alongside colleagues in a structured programme, to capture knowledge and learn from their experience.
- Avoid assumptions by consulting and involving older workers when considering relevant control measures to put in place. Extra thought may be needed for some hazards. Consultation with your employees helps you to manage health and safety in a practical way.
Guidance for older workers
As an employee, you have a duty to take care of your own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by your actions.
You must cooperate with your employer and other employees to help everyone meet their legal requirements.
If you have specific queries or concerns about your health and safety or if you are experiencing difficulty in carrying out your work, you should raise this with your employer.
Under health and safety law, employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable , the health and safety of all their employees, irrespective of age.
Employers must also provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to enable their employees to carry out their work safely.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a duty to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the workplace risks to the health and safety of his employees. This includes identifying groups of workers who might be particularly at risk, which could include older workers.
Discrimination in respect of age is different from all other forms of direct discrimination in that it can be justifiable if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end, such as considering changes to work that may be needed to ensure older workers can remain in the workforce.
If you need further information please call us on 01458 253682 or send us an email.
We are running new courses again in 2016 and the dates and details of the latest courses are listed below they are:
- Liability for Accidents and Ill Health at Work
- CDM Regulations 2015 – An Awareness Course
- SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme)
But remember we are still available for running “In House” courses and we have now also added a new training service for our customers.
Site Manager Safety Training Scheme
(Part of Construction Skills “Site Safety Plus” Suite of Courses)
We have formed an association with a local company TQ Excel who are one of the UK’s leading providers of accredited training to the highways sector of the construction industry.
AS a result of this we can now offer the SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme)
The Site Management Safety Training Scheme forms part of the Construction Skills (CITB) Site Safety Plus range of courses which are highly regarded within the construction industry.
The 5 day training course is aimed at site managers wishing to develop a more in depth legal, moral and social understanding of their role and also teaches delegates how to manage on-site health and safety in accordance with current legislation.
We also offer the 2 day SSSTS Training Course (Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme) which is a 2 day course aimed at those with on-site supervisory responsibilities.
We also can now offer NRSWA courses.
These qualifications are for those involved in the Excavation and Re-instatement of the highway and are specified under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. They are a legal requirement for “statutory undertakers” (i.e. Utility Contractors) and for those working under “section 50 licenses” (Drainage works etc).
Where works are subject to the Act there must be a minimum of 1 qualified operative on every site that is qualified for the operations being carried out and there must be a Supervisor available to visit the site at least on a daily basis.
The qualifications are also often specified by client organisations and local authorities when appointing contractors for works involving excavation or reinstatement of the highway for other purposes.
Seminar Objective Training /CPD Certificate issued
This one-day course looks at your liability, as Company Owner, Director, or Manager. The course will look at a number of case studies and explain the legal requirements of the Employer, Managers, and your Safety Adviser.
- Legal framework and legislation (Criminal and civil liabilities)
- Roles and responsibilities of Directors, senior management team and the H&S Advisers
- An HSE Investigation
- Criminal Law – Who’s Liable
- The New powers of the Courts
- Compensation – Who’s Liable
- Corporate Manslaughter – The key things to know
- When it is the employee’s fault
- How to reduce your liability as an employer
- How you could be personally liable
- Successful cases against Health & Safety Advisers
Benefits of Attending
- By attending this course you will understand your liability regarding Health & Safety at work. And what you need to do to protect yourself and your business.
- How the Authorities investigate incidents and how the courts fine you.
Course Duration: 1 day
|LIAB 1602||Thursday 9th June 2016||Taunton Racecourse, Orchard Portman, Taunton, Somerset TA3 7BL|
Fee: £150 to include Course notes, mid-morning & afternoon refreshments, Finger buffet lunch, CPD Certificate (Fee subject to VAT)