Workers’ Compensation and the Aging Workforce | DirectWorkComp

If you are a business owner reading this, we know how much you value your employees. Especially those who have remained loyal for a number of years. However, the aging workforce of people who are 55+ may have some risks associated that need to be addressed when it comes to workers’ compensation.

Older Americans continue to delay their retirement or reenter the workforce to supplement their income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024, it is projected that the labor force will grow to about 164 million people – 41 million of that being people who will be ages 55 and older. This increase in older workers introduces the need to understand the risks associated with this age group, and as a result, effectively manage their potentially costly workers’ compensation claims.


The Challenges

One of the main challenges associated with older employees is the impact that they can potentially have on your organization’s workers’ compensation costs. These costs come largely from the growth of employees with pre-existing and age-related medical conditions, as well as chronic illness. This is resulting in a much more difficult and time-consuming process to prevent and treat work-related injuries.

For many employers, workers’ compensation claims are growing at a rate faster than most other costs. Claims for back injuries, knee injuries, stress, and cumulative trauma disorder continue to increase as the proportion of aging workers grows. Addressing the challenge of meeting the needs of aging workers will not only decrease workers’ compensation claims but can also have a positive effect on both workplace safety and health care costs.

It’s true that accidents can always occur in the workplace, but the majority of workers’ compensation claims are not accidental. Rather, they are preventable. And many of these claims simply occur because the employee is not physically capable of performing the duties associated with the position in a safe manner. This is especially common with aging workers due to many of them having pre-existing injuries or chronic conditions.

Aging Workforce


Controlling Costs

While many states’ fair employment acts prohibit employers from questioning potential candidates about disabilities or previous injuries, you can help control your workers’ compensation costs by determining if potential employees can safely perform job duties needed for the position. Assess candidates’ abilities by doing the following:

  • Have a local medical clinic provide pre-employment physical examinations and pre-employment physical abilities testing to candidates.
  • Invite the clinic’s medical director and those conducting pre-employment testing to your facility so they can better understand the nature and exertion level needed to perform the duties of each position.
  • Create clear, specific, and accurate job descriptions to help potential candidates determine if the physical strain of the position would be too much.
  • Provide these job descriptions to the physician who performs the fit-for-duty exams to help them better assess candidates’ physical limitations and their ability to perform the duties necessary to be successful in the position.

To minimize the potential impact of workers’ compensation claims, executing pre-employment physical exams and physical ability testing can significantly reduce your risk exposure. If you would like more general ways on how tp save on your workers’ compensation insurance, click here.


Recap on the Aging Workforce and Workers Compensation

Are we saying that people 55+ should not be hired, absolutely not! They are valuable assets to the workforce and have the experience to make great employees. As an employer, just keep in mind physical ability for specific job positions – make sure it is the best fit for the employee and yourself. By doing this, you reduce the risk for your employees and help yourself when it comes to workers’ compensation claims & costs. Keep in mind that not all accidents can be avoided. You need an insurance company in your corner that truly understands risk and genuinely wants to add value to your business. At Direct Work Comp, that is exactly what we do. If you have any questions, email us at or call us at (888) 399-1190. If you want instant coverage in 5 minutes, get your free online quote here

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