Older workers (defined as those aged > / = 55 years) represented 19% of the U.S. workforce in 2009* and are the nation's fastest growing segment of the working population (1). To identify occupational safety issues affecting older workers, an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) was conducted by CDC, BLS, and several state partners. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicated that, based on employer reports, an estimated 210,830 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses among older workers in 2009 resulted in lost workdays. Although older workers had similar or lower rates for all injuries and illnesses combined compared with younger workers, the length of absence from work increased steadily with age and was highest for older workers (medians of 11 and 12 days for workers aged 55-64 years and > / = 65 years, respectively). Older workers had higher rates of falls on the same level, fractures, and hip injuries compared with younger workers and workers of all ages. Public health and research agencies should conduct research to better understand the overall burden of occupational injuries and illnesses on older workers, aging-associated risks, and effective prevention strategies. Employers and others should take steps to address specific risks for older workers such as falls (e.g., by ensuring floor surfaces are clean, dry, well-lit, and free from tripping hazards).
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