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Employers must deliver proactive age management

24 July 2018

OLDER WORKERS are a valuable resource who make a positive contribution to businesses says the chartered body for safety and health professionals.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is calling on employers to deliver proactive age management, including better designed work and workplace adjustment; training, retraining and redeployment; flexible working; and phased retirement.

The report, published today by the Women and Equalities Committee in the UK, said that more than half a million people aged 50 or over who want to work are unable to do so because the law on age discrimination isn’t being enforced.

They also recommend that the Equality and Human Rights Commission “must be clearer that “prejudice, unconscious bias and casual ageism in the workplace” is illegal. 

It is expected that older workers are increasingly being required to fill a skills gap in the UK, with there being far more job vacancies than young school and college leavers. 

Responding to the report, technical information manager at IOSH Judith McNulty-Green said, “Older workers are a valuable resource and make a positive contribution to organisations. 

“Age diversity at work brings benefits to individuals, workplaces and wider society, such as a broader range of skills and experience; opportunities for skill-transfer and mentoring; reduced staff turnover; and improved staff morale.

“IOSH believes that good working conditions throughout working lives benefit workers, businesses and society. Working lives are getting longer and therefore supporting healthy extended careers and workability for all ages is vital.

“We know good work is good for physical and mental health and that effective occupational safety and health management can help ensure all workers can fulfil their potential.”

However, extended working lives increases the likelihood of workers with chronic health conditions as well as longer exposure to hazards. Employers must be able to manage these risks.

IOSH provides free resources to help organisations support older workers, including guidance on rehabilitation and mobile workers and its occupational health toolkit. It has also funded a number of research reports, including on post retirement age workers and the health promotion needs of older workers.