Aging Workers—Turning Risk Liability To Workers' Comp Windfall!

Much is written about the "aging workforce" and its various challenges for workers' comp budgets. Like most things in life, the "aging workforce" has its positives and negatives. On the positive side is the vast experience they have gained which is extremely valuable and hard to replace.

On the liability side of the ledger we have workers that may be more prone to sprain/strain injuries which can be very expensive. Wouldn't it be nice if we could dramatically reduce their proneness to injury and benefit from their experience?

Being a baby boomer myself and having a MAJOR birthday coming up this year, I can definitely relate to this "aging workforce" thing. As the saying goes, it beats the alternative!

The process of aging is, if nothing else, very educational. It seems like just yesterday I was the young guy. Now, it seems like I am always the oldest guy in the room. How did that happen so fast, or seemingly so?

I went to a high school reunion eighteen months ago or so and ran into many "old" dear friends. What I found very interesting was some of these past acquaintances seemed much older than many of the others. Yet we were all relatively the same age. They appeared, spoke, and even moved "older" than the others.

Apparently, we are born with an X quantity of life and in our youth it bounds forth in everything we do. How is it that this life force diminishes more so in some as we age and yet not as much in others?

There seems to be some type of a universal agreement that happens when you reach a certain age. It calls for an acceptance that you can't do certain things anymore, that things should slow down, that pain is just part of living now, that getting out of shape is an ok thing, that perhaps less is expected of one and that the world is now someone else's responsibility. It isn't written anywhere. It just seems to kick in as people get older.

Some fully accept this "agreement" while others seem to scoff at it and decide to not "act their age."

It has been written that what diminishes one's "joie de vivre" (carefree enjoyment of life) more than anything else are losses. If one lives long enough one does a fair amount of losing. It could be a job, loved ones, faded goals, broken relationships, dreams, etc. Apparently these can add up enough to dampen one's energy towards life.

Another significant form of "loss" is pain. Pain, such as from a back or shoulder injury prevents one from doing things in life that one likes, wants, or needs to do. It is a "loss" if one likes to play golf or tennis, or swim or jog but can't do it any longer due to a workplace injury. It is a loss if one likes to garden but can't due to a shoulder injury. And yes, it is a loss if one can't even get a good night's sleep due to chronic pain. Pain can deaden the soul pretty darn effectively; especially if it becomes chronic.

Twenty years ago, we discovered something that is evidently extremely important and something that negatively affects most people unknowingly. It is common knowledge that if one is untrained on how to operate equipment, they are more prone to injury. The bulldozer operator, truck driver, tree trimmer, and the meat cutter at the deli department have to be thoroughly trained before endeavoring to operate their machinery. Imagine yourself getting on a bulldozer right now, untrained, and think of how much damage you could do? It would be obvious that the damage caused to property and yourself was because you were not trained adequately. Similarly, we discovered that 80% of our population suffers from a back incident in their lifetime because of the simple fact that we are never trained on how to use it. We are never taught anything about our spine or how to use it until we get injured. Do you, your employees or your family know how many bones make up your spine? Yet, most of us know how many cylinders we have in our car.

We discovered that most back pain, shoulder injuries, wrist, arm and neck discomfort is a direct result of people never learning the ABCs of simple everyday body mechanics and posture. What a revelation! Did you ever learn what causes you to feel back pain? Or why your neck and shoulders are in knots by Friday afternoon? This lack of basic knowledge results in pain and injury and we lose out on doing things that we enjoy or worse, have an injury that affects us the rest of our lives.

People in pain feel older. Some incorrectly assign this pain to the fact that they are over 50 or 60 or even 40 for some people. Pain is a demoralizer of magnitude.

What we have learned in the process of training over one million employees is that most people don't like feeling older, they don't want to be in pain, they want to feel better and have more "life force" not less.

We have learned the simple fact that most people, if not everyone, can become more in charge of how they feel, if someone would only teach them what should have been learned many years ago.

We have proven that if your employees are taught how to correctly use their bodies, the most important equipment they will ever operate, they will not become injured. The collateral savings on workers' comp is often times in the windfall category. We have the stats that prove this.

It is actually very easy to teach injury prevention techniques to the "aging" worker. Most dream of having some of their youthfulness back. They would do anything to squelch that back pain, or shoulder and neck stiffness. The aging workforce is a very willing partner in your desire to prevent workplace injuries.

What if you and your employees were taught how to prevent the on-going "micro-traumas" that occur every day because you just never knew how to prevent them; what if you and your employees were taught simple recuperative techniques that helped get your muscles and joints free of this micro-trauma that you have already accumulated?

We did not find Juan Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth. But we did discover how to teach employees the skills to not suffer from preventable aches and pains.

What if you could enjoy the benefits of your "aging" workers and not suffer the financial liabilities of injury proneness?

As one 52 year old person recently wrote on his Backsafe Course Critique Form: "Boy did this 52 year old body need this training!" I believe many would agree with him if given the chance.

Prevent tomorrow's injuries today!™

Dennis Downing, President

Future Industrial Technologies

*This article may be reprinted in its entirety provided that the following resource is left intact:

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc. (F.I.T.) offers workplace safety and ergonomics training programs. Backsafe® teaches employees how to perform their specific job tasks in a manner that is biomechanically correct. Sittingsafe® teaches office employees how to adapt their existing workstations so they are ergonomically correct. These injury prevention programs make your workplace safer and are proven to reduce injuries and worker compensation insurance costs.

For more information contact Dennis Downing at:

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

5951 Encina Road, Suite 201 | Goleta, CA 93117

Tel (800) 775-2225 | Fax (805) 967-2487

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