Article from the April 2008 edition of DC Velocity by Tobey Gooley.
Populations in the US (and I guess the UK) are getting older. In many cases this is currently being counteracted by an influx of younger immigrants, but this may not continue. Whilst it is easy to focus on the negatives of the ageing population, there are many positives with some studies showing employing older people can result in improved productivity and safety.
The article lists 16 steps to a safer workplace with older people in mind (although they probably help for all ages).
1. Improve illumination and add colour contrast.
2. Eliminate heavy lifts, elevated work from ladders and long reaches.
3. Design work floors and platforms with smooth and solid decking while still allowing some cushioning.
4. Reduce static standing time.
5. Remove clutter from control panels and computer screens, and use large video displays.
6. Reduce noise levels.
7. Install chain actuators for valve hand wheels, damper levers, or other similar control devices. This brings the control manipulation to ground level, which helps to reduce falls.
8. Install skid-resistant material for flooring and especially for stair treads.
9. Install shallow-angle stairways in place of ladders when space permits and where any daily, elevated access is needed to complete a task.
10. Utilize hands-free, volume-adjustable telephone equipment.
11. Increase task rotation, which will reduce the strain of repetitive motion.
12. Lower sound-system pitches, such as on alarm systems, as they tend to be easier to hear.
13. Lengthen time requirements between steps in a task.
14. Increase the time allowed for making decisions.
15. Consider necessary reaction time when assigning older workers to tasks.
16. Provide opportunities for practice and time to develop task familiarity.