Background The New Zealand (NZ) workforce is experiencing rapid demographic ageing and older workers (aged 55+ years) are a fast growing segment of the working population. Few analyses have examined the nature and cause of injury for older workers in any depth despite older workers having high rates of work-related injury. This study aims to describe the nature and cause of work-related injuries in older NZ workers for the period 2008–2014.
Methods Retrospective descriptive cohort data for older workers were extracted from national work-related injury accepted claims data (2008–14) and analysed by gender, employment status, industry, injury type and external cause. Comparisons by age groups (55–59, 60–64, and 65+) were also undertaken.
Results Of 44,061 unintentional work-related injury entitlement claims 2008–14 in workers aged 55 years or older; 17,098 were 55–59; 14,160 were 60–64 and 12,803 were 65+ years. Fatal injuries were sustained by 307 workers with 171 deaths in workers aged 65+. Preliminary analyses reveal patterns of injury differ by age, particularly for the oldest 65+ group. Overall, males (79%), employees (78%), those in physical work (83%), and in manufacturing (20%), agriculture (17%), and construction (16%) sectors had the most claims. The oldest group, 65+, had the highest proportion of claims in males (85%), for the self-employed (26%), in sedentary work (21%) and for the agriculture sector (23%). Injuries to the face were common (30%), particularly for workers aged 65+ (56%), while back and hand/wrist injuries were also prevalent in those aged 55–59 and 60–64. Falls were prevalent (31%) and highest in workers aged 55–59 (35%) and 60–64 (33%).
Conclusions The burden of work-related injuries in older workers will increase with their increasing participation in work. Interventions to protect older workers from injuries at work need to consider their specific characteristics and vulnerabilities to inform age-sensitive injury prevention strategies.
- work-related injury
- older workers
- descriptive epidemiology
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