Older workers: health and safety
Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of older workers as they have for all workers.
What employers should do
A separate risk assessment is not required specifically for older workers. Review your risk assessment if anything significant changes, not just when a worker reaches a certain age.
Think about the activities older workers do, as part of your overall risk assessment and consider if any changes are needed.
Avoid assumptions by consulting and involving older workers when considering which control measures to put in place. Consulting with your workers will help you manage health and safety in a practical way.
Changes you may consider include:
- allowing older workers more time to absorb health and safety information or training, for example through self-paced training
- introducing opportunities for older workers to choose other types of work
- designing manual handling tasks to eliminate or minimise the risk
Do not assume that certain jobs are physically too demanding for older workers, many jobs are supported by technology, which can absorb the physical strain.
Think about how your business operates and how older workers could play a part in helping to improve how you manage health and safety risks.
This might include having older workers working alongside colleagues in a structured programme, to capture knowledge and learn from their experience.
Managing risks and risk assessment at work
Under health and safety law, employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all their workers, irrespective of age.
Employers must also provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to enable workers 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 assess workplace risks to the health and safety of their workers. This includes identifying groups of workers who might be particularly at risk, which could include older workers.
Discrimination because of age can be lawful if employers can show that there is a good reason for their policy, for example changes to work to ensure older workers can remain in the workforce.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides information and further advice on age discrimination.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website
Older workers have the same responsibilities as other workers.
Workers rights and responsibilities
- Help and support for older workers (GOV.UK)
- Acas guide on age discrimination (Acas website)