B.C. older workers face greater occupational health and safety risks: WorkSafeBC

Asbestos responsible for 70 per cent of fatalities among older workers

Workers age 55 and older are now the fastest growing segment of the labour force, and they're facing increasingly greater risks of serious injuries and fatalities, according to statistics released by WorkSafeBC.
Of the more than 1,500 claims WorkSafeBC received for fatalities between 2002 and 2011, 55 per cent or 832 were for older workers. Of those older workers, 95 per cent were for males.

Occupational disease caused by exposure to asbestos is responsible for 70 per cent of fatalities among older workers, the most recent WorkSafeBC statistics indicate. Asbestos has claimed the lives of close to six out of every 10 workers who died at the age of 55 or older.

Most of the fatalities reported among older workers were in construction trade, such as plumbing, carpentry and roofing, as well as fabricating, machining and manufacturing, said WorkSafeBC.

Older workers also suffer from hearing loss due to noise exposure at a rate four times that of younger workers. And older workers suffer fewer injuries than their younger counterparts, but when they are seriously injured, they take longer to recover.

For young workers, more than one-half of the 682 fatalities for these working group occurred in three occupations: transport operators, construction trades, and logging and forestry. The WorkSafeBC statistics also reported 399 deaths from non-motor vehicle incidents among young workers, of which about 14 per cent resulted from falls.

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