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The focus of European Health & safety week is the creation of a workplace that meets the needs of workers of all ages whilst promoting good practices throughout our working lives to ensure healthy aging.

Aging workforce

As qualification for retirement is being pushed into later life, we are well aware that the population now has more, older workers than ever before. In fact, by 2030, workers aged 55-64 are expected to make up 30% of Europe’s workforce. This undoubtedly brings about new challenges for organisations:

  • – Longer working lives may result in longer exposures to risks
  • – A higher proportion of older workers could mean more people having chronic health problems and thus specific needs
  • – Older workers might be more vulnerable to certain hazards
  • – Disability prevention, rehabilitation and return to work are of increased importance (1)

Furthermore, when you combine this with the emerging X, Y and Z generations who will be entering the workplace, there will be significant demographic change which will need to be addressed.

Office Furnishing – stating the obvious

It is easy to understand the impact that poor design and lack of function in office furniture can have on health; but it is equally important that the selected components complement each other to create a workspace that reflects the combined needs of the users and management whilst supporting the task requirements and meeting workplace legislation.

Often the main elements of the office environment are divided between those responsible for facilities, I.T and purchasing who may, in many cases, select products autonomously. However, once these items are brought together to create a ‘Workstation’ it will often fall to those trained in Health & Safety (and DSE Assessors) to attempt to rectify any issues.

Inter-department communication; the key to managing change

CommunicationSurely it would be prudent to involve those who encounter the problems experienced by end users- the H & S advisors – in the product selection, prior to purchasing? From the initial furnishing of the premises through to the type of technology employed, such collaborative interaction and insight could reap dividends in overall expenditure as well as productivity, morale and sickness absence. As already stated, the complexity of generational office worker requirements over the next decade will challenge our traditional practises so that the functionality of product design will be instrumental to creating a Healthy Workplace For All Ages.

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