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One of the consequences of crisis on economic policy in countries, is being the proposal for postpone the retirement age. This kind of policies are becoming common, as shown in this chart:

retirement age in Europe

Source: Eurofoud / El País

Tendency to postpone retirement age is already observed: unemployment rate in EU-27 between aged 55 to 64 years went from 46% in 2009 to 50,9% in 2011, whereas average age of labor market exit in EU-27 has also increased constantly, going from 59,9% in 2001 to 61,4% in 2009.

This extension of working life, along with the decrease of young people starting a job (young unemployment rates in EU-27 was 21,3%, source: Eurostat), will result that next years, proportion of old aged workers will increase.

Old aged workers.

The ageing process itself causes the reduction of functional abilities, specially physical and sensorial, which decrease because of the natural ageing process.


This reduction won´t only depend on age, but also factors such as life style, nutrition, physical condition and genetic predisposition.

Reducing physical abilities will bring an increasing raise of chronic diseases, which may affect absenteeism.

Regarding absenteeism, it is observed that sick leaves for one or more days length diseases decrease as years go by (from 46% to 36%), whereas sick leaves for one or more month length diseases increase as years go by (from 13 to 23%). (Source: Eurostat).

On the other hand, counting on older workers provide organisations an interesting added value related to:

  • Broader working experience;
  • Technical knowledge acquired;
  • Wider social skills;
  • Greater flexibility (since there are no dependences);
  • Security, calm and wisdom acquired with time.

What do you think, may ageing become more a problem than and advantage, or no?.

Challenges for risk prevention services.

Anyway, this ageing raise in workforces together with the abilities reduction will cause that corporate risk prevention services will have to assess this factor of risk.

Among other measures, companies will have to:

  •  Perform risk assessments taking into account age groups (not only young workers) and assess the changes of worker´s functional abilities. In this sense, a risk assessment taking into account ageing will must to pay attention on, among others, physical requirements of work, hazards of working in shifts, high temperature at work, noise, etc..
  • Adapt work and labor environment to face these changes in functional abilities:
    • Sensorial abilities: Changes in visual ability will must to be addressed assessing lighting conditions, adapting and making a follow up by means of health examinations;
    • Physical abilities: Loss of physical abilities will must to be addressed by means of, among other:
      • Jobs redefinition;
      • Rotations;
      • Use of auxiliary equipment and technology


  • Restrict tasks requiring great physical efforts;
  • Possibility to recovery, by means of brief or more frequent breaks.
  • Campaigns for promoting healthy lifestyles (diet and nutrition, alcohol consumption, promote physical exercises) influencing on factors which, together with ageing, affect on the reduction of worker´s physical and sensorial abilities.
  • active ageing

    Do you think companies take into account in risks assessments the group of older workers?  

    Have your companies implemented promotion campaigns or have adapted jobs or labor environment to changes in workers´abilities?.

    Do you know any successful case?


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