New Campaign Focuses on Europe’s Ageing Workforce

Sunday 23rd October

Tomorrow (Monday 24th October) marks the beginning of European Week for Safety and Health at Work on the theme of “Healthy Workplaces for All Ages”.

Europe’s workforce is ageing: by 2030, workers aged 55–64 are expected to make up 30% or more of the total workforce in many countries. The “Healthy Workplaces for All Ages” campaign aims to help workers, managers and employers recognise and manage the challenges of an ageing workforce.

Speaking about the campaign, Dr. Sharon McGuinness, Assistant Chief Executive with the Health and Safety Authority, said, “Irish employers need to address the health challenges of an ageing workforce now in order to secure safe and healthy jobs for a multigenerational workforce in the future. Forward planning between occupational safety and health (OSH) management and HR management to promote sustainable work and healthy ageing from the beginning of working life is crucial. It will not only help to safeguard their employee’s health up to and beyond retirement age, it will also increase their organisations’ productivity.”

Dr. McGuinness added, “Irish employers are legally obliged to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all workers and discrimination based on age is explicitly prohibited. By providing healthy workplaces for all employees and promoting safety and health for all ages, employers are likely to see reductions in staff turnover and sick leave absenteeism as well as improvements in morale and cost effectiveness.”

An ageing workforce poses a number of challenges to employees, employers and organisations including:

  • Longer working lives may result in longer exposure to risks
  • A higher proportion of older workers means more people having chronic health problems and thus specific needs
  • Older workers might be more vulnerable to certain hazards
  • Disability prevention, rehabilitation and return to work are of increased importance

Good workplace design and work organisation benefits all age groups. In the context of an ageing workforce, it is more important than ever to help people with health problems remain in work through occupational rehabilitation and policies facilitating return to work. Risk assessments should take into account the age profile of the workforce.

Full details about the “Healthy Workplaces for All Ages” campaign including tailored guidance for employers, workers and HR managers can be found at www.healthy-workplaces-eu.