Older is better . . at least sometimes. So says a new study that found older workers actually had a lower incidence of work-related low back injury from both an overall and time-loss claims perspective than their younger cohorts.
The study compared injury rates of younger and older workers when performing high intensity lifting tasks in a five year study of material handlers employed at a home improvement retailer. Participants were divided into three age categories: less than 45; 45 to 54; and 55 or greater. A low back injury was considered an event if it was work related, was diagnosed by a physician, and had an acute/abrupt onset. The prospective cohort study involved 50,000 full time equivalents and was stratified for gender, length of employment, and lifting intensity.
Workers who were 45 to 54 years old were 0.75 times as likely, and those age 55 or greater were .78 times as likely to sustain a low back injury compared to employees less than 45. However, the average number of missed work days per time loss claim was higher for older workers
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-11-16.