A right to a safe and healthy working environment
It is your right to be able to work in a healthy and safe workplace without being discriminated on account of your age, gender or disability (read more). The Equality Act (2010) protects older people and disabled people from discrimination and employers have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled individuals.
Your employer has a legal duty to assess the safety and health risks and if needed to adapt the work to the individual, taking account of his or her changing capacities.
It means that some changes in functional capacity that are related to ageing need to be taken into account in risk assessment and addressed through corrective measures at work.
Ageing and risk assessment
The following hazards, among others, need specific consideration due to age related changes in functional capacities:
- Ergonomic hazards, such as repetitive movements, manual handling, awkward, uncomfortable postures, static postures;
- Shift work;
- Hot, cold or noisy work environments, vibration; and
- Working at height.
Based on the results of risk assessment, adaptations to the workplace might be needed so that the demands of work better match the changing capacities and health status.
Examples of adaptations include:
- Adapting existing equipment or providing new equipment to eliminate or reduce manual handling, repetitive and forceful movements, awkward postures;
- Providing adjustable workstations to suit all users of all ages operating them;
- Regularly changing tasks (task rotation);
- Automating routine or monotonous tasks;
- Changing shift patterns; and
- Adjusting lighting.
Here (OSH professional's module) you can read more about how age-related changes can impact on a worker's functional capacities and how this can be addressed at work.