Anyone can get hurt at work, as job injuries range from predictable, industry-specific trauma risks to fluke accidents related to criminal activity or inclement weather. People of all ages and backgrounds engaged in gainful employment could potentially end up suffering from a work-related injury or a job-acquired illness.
However, certain groups weather greater risk (at least, statistically speaking) on the job than others. When looking at federal workplace injury data, two specific groups tend to navigate greater risk for injury on the job when compared with the rest of the population.
Older workers are at elevated risk
With people living longer and retirement ages rising, more people work later in life. Having older adults in the workforce can be beneficial in many ways, but those workers are more likely than their younger coworkers to end up hurt.
According to a report from the National Safety Council, older adults are at elevated risk for two kinds of work injuries. Specifically, they are more likely to slip, trip and fall. Many older adults end up seeking emergency medical care because of broken bones or brain injuries caused by a same-level fall at work. They are also more susceptible to contracting infectious diseases at work.
Younger workers also have elevated risks
With many jobs, an individual’s degree of risk decreases as they become more familiar with the equipment they use and industry safety practices. As with driving a motor vehicle, experience is often the only means of ensuring someone’s competence and overall safety.
Younger workers have their own risks, including a greater chance of injury caused by contact with objects/equipment and a greater chance of getting cut on the job. Mistakes on the job and sometimes an inability to consider long-term risks may factor into the increased injury risk for young adults. In certain industries, like construction, younger workers may actually be at the highest risk of an on-the-job fatality.
Employees hurt at work and those who lose a loved one in a work incident may have grounds for a workers’ compensation claim and/or a civil lawsuit. Recognizing personal risk factors, including personal characteristics that may increase physical risk, can help people avoid work injuries and take appropriate action after one has manifested.