Founder, Soter Analytics
Workforce ages are increasing, mirroring the overall population age rise. It seemed logical that this will increase injury rates as research shows a person will lose 3-5% of muscle strength and recovery capabilities every decade after 30 (Preserve your muscle mass - Harvard Health).
Our team has studied the injury data from more than a dozen companies and while we are not permitted to go into any specifics, older workers actually experience fewer injuries - and in particular, fewer musculoskeletal injuries. Offsetting that, however, is they generally take longer to recover from a musculoskeletal injury. Despite that, older workers still experience fewer days lost than their younger colleagues.
To validate this, we took the responses of more than 500 workers who answered our in-app question:
"Do you often get up in the morning with a stiff feeling in your lower back?"
Older workers have an advantage - experience. In general, they know how to do the job better, have done the job for a while and built up strength, and proven they can handle the job requirements.
This is particularly noticeable in the number of higher-risk movements more experienced workers make when compared to their younger colleagues. Higher-risk movements are when the worker is exposed to a posture or force that has an increased risk of injury (specifics on what these movements are can be found here).
Gen-X workers make 55% less higher-risk movements compared to their Post-Millennial colleagues while doing the same amount of work (we also measured all the movements each worker made, not only the higher-risk ones, which showed each generation group does the same amount of work).
This starts to explain why older workers are having fewer injuries. What are the other factors? We will continue to explore this over the next few months as more data is analysed.