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Health and safety for older workers

Introduction

Today’s workforce is likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, which means that many people will need, and want to continue working.

Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of older employees as they have for all their employees.

These pages will help employers take older workers into account when considering how to meet their responsibilities.

Dispelling the myths

Health and safety should not be used as an excuse to avoid employing older people. A separate risk assessment is not required specifically for older workers.

Research that has been carried out on age and employment is listed in the resources and useful links section of this guidance and includes the following findings:

Guidance for employers

Older workers bring a broad range of skills and experience to the workplace and often have better judgement and job knowledge, so looking after their health and safety makes good business sense.

You should:

Further information

Guidance for older workers

As an employee, you have a duty to take care of your own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by your actions.

You must cooperate with your employer and other employees to help everyone meet their legal requirements.

If you have specific queries or concerns about your health and safety or if you are experiencing difficulty in carrying out your work, you should raise this with your employer.

Further information

The law

Under health and safety law, employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk. , the health and safety of all their employees, irrespective of age.

Employers must also provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to enable their employees to carry out their work safely.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR)

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a duty to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the workplace risks to the health and safety of his employees. This includes identifying groups of workers who might be particularly at risk, which could include older workers.

Equality Law

Discrimination in respect of age is different from all other forms of direct discrimination in that it can be justifiable if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end, such as considering changes to work that may be needed to ensure older workers can remain in the workforce.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides information and further advice on age discrimination.

Resources and useful links

Updated 2016-06-27