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RR799 - Ageing and work-related musculoskeletal disorders

This work was commissioned to provide a review of the recent literature concerning ageing and occupational MSD, and to carry out scoping activities to inform the formulation of future policy or guidance and provision of advice. However, as the findings were developed, the scoping element was dropped at the customer’s request.

Attitudes towards ageing and work are changing; more employers regard older workers as a valuable asset and are willing to keep current employees on for longer periods past the usual retirement age. Older workers are more susceptible to work-related MSD than younger workers because of decreased functional capacity; the propensity for injury is related more to the difference between the demands of work and the worker’s physical work capacity (or work ability) rather than their age. An older workforce has implications for the health and safety responsibilities of employers. These include providing additional support for worker requirements, changing the workplace attitudes towards ageing, providing a positive knowledge base, adjusting the workplace design and accommodations and improving worker/employer relationships (co-operation).

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-05-06