One-fifth of Irish workers over 55

Patrick Whelan

October 07 2019

As a nation, our workforce is getting older.

The average age has increased in recent years, a trend that shows no signs of slowing.

Between 1998 and 2018, the employee age group of 55+ grew to 20%, an increase of 10%. These findings are according to a new Health & Safety Authority study released on October 1st.

New study, new findings

“The ageing workforce in Ireland” report sheds light on both our workforce and working conditions.  

Self-employed workers top the list of most likely to work into their late 50s. When it comes to employees, workers in admin roles are the most likely to have longer working lives. This comes down to the long-term security of their roles and the lack of physical labour involved.

In contrast, those who do work in physical roles, or who have a poor work-life balance, tend to leave their positions or retire before the age of 60.

The role of illness and disability

Illness and disability are also influential factors in employee decisions to leave work involuntarily. One in five aged between 55 and 59 cited illness or disability as the reason for leaving.

Caregiving is also a significant factor in employee decisions to leave the workforce early with women being five times more likely to have left early for care reasons than men are.

Safety in the workplace

Safety in the workplace, no matter what sector, is a crucial aspect of employment.

The study revealed that while older workers are less likely to experience a workplace injury, they’re more likely to experience a workplace fatality.

The 55 to 64 age group, for instance, is two times more likely to experience a fatality than those under 55. Workers over 65 are three and a half times more likely to experience a fatality.

The report stresses the importance of improving working conditions for employees of all ages, which will encourage employees to remain in the workforce for longer.

How employers can keep more people in work

The greater risk of workplace fatality among older workers highlights the importance of assessing the health & safety risks applicable to older workers. The report recommends all employers implement tailored health & safety policies that consider the requirements of older workers.

In addition, the report advises employers to explore the idea of part-time hours, flexible work options and increasing access to training and lifelong learning opportunities. These options facilitate workers with illnesses/disabilities, older workers and workers re-entering the workforce following an absence.

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