Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 24, 2016

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European Health and Safety Week 2016 – Healthy workplaces for all ages


This week from 24 to 28 October workplaces in Europe share a common goal: promoting sustainable working lives and safe and healthy working conditions for all ages.

By 2030, workers aged over 55 are expected to make up 30 % or more of the total workforce in many EU countries. This creates challenges for employees, employers and businesses. In light of an ageing population and declining demographics, it is vital to create safe and healthy conditions for all workers throughout working life. Doing so ensures the European workforce is sustainable and dynamic. EU-OSHA and its partners are taking the lead in promoting sustainable working lives and helping employers gather the benefits that older workers can bring to organisations.

Dr Christa Sedlatschek, Director of EU-OSHA said: “27 per cent of European workers don’t think they will be able to do the same job at 60. That’s why prevention of occupational accidents and ill health are a cornerstone of our campaign. Employers must take into account workforce diversity and pay special attention to vulnerable workers: young workers, older workers, people with disabilities, women.”

As the working population ages, it is likely that there will be more workers with disabilities or long term health problems (and not all related to work) so measures such as rehabilitation and return to work will also be of increased importance.

The good news is that good workplace design and well managed health and safety benefit all of those in the workplace, young, old, and the in-between. And of course, with today’s young workers becoming tomorrow’s older workers, it really is the case that we need healthy workplaces for all ages.

Joint action for healthy workplaces for all ages

UNISON is encouraging employers and branches to work together to ensure that workplaces really are healthy for all ages, asking:


  • Are risk assessments, policies, and procedures diversity-sensitive – that is, do they consider the different hazards and risks for all workers whether younger, older, or perhaps vulnerable in some other way?
  • Is prevention the key focus of the employers health and safety strategy (so far as is reasonably practicable), followed by the minimisation of exposure to risks?
  • Are there effective rehabilitation and return to work procedures?
  • Are workplaces, the work, and equipment adapted to fit the individual? For example are they ergonomic, do they reduce manual handling, and are there opportunities for job rotation?

Several info sheets summarising the main reports from the EU-OSHA project “Safer and healthier work at any age – occupational safety and health (OSH) in the context of an ageing workforce” have just been released. They cover topics such as the benefits older workers can bring to organisations, the added risks women encounter in the workplace, systems for rehabilitation and return to work in place across Europe, and an overview of policies and strategies aimed at sustaining Europe’s ageing workforce. These info sheets underline, for example, that factors linked to lifestyle or specific occupations can play an even more important role in overall health and workplace risk than chronological age does. You can download these resources here.

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Philippa Myall-Chance
Philippa Myall-Chance
7 years ago

Great Article, Lauren. We’ve also been supporting European Safety Week here at Initiafy, and have put together some great resources including a free training course for managers on the H&S Implications of an ageing workforce: https://app.initiafy.com/en/Registration/allages, an eBook on how companies can prepare for an ageing workforce: http://www.initiafy.com/how-can-companies-prepare-for-an-aging-workforce and an infographic on the importance of this topic: http://www.initiafy.com/news/european-health-safety-week-healthy-workplaces-for-all-ages. It’s all free, so feel free to check it out!