Health protection and health promotion programs need to be integrated into the workplace soon if the aging U.S. work force is to remain competitive and productive, according to recommendations released last week by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) and NIOSH. The recommendations—published in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM)—summarize the results of the first Invitational Summit on Advancing the Health Protection and Promotion of an Aging Workforce, a national summit on aging in the workplace convened by ACOEM and NIOSH in April of last year. According to ACOEM’s press release, one trend that prompted the summit is that the number of Americans 65 and older will nearly double between 2005 and 2030, with a significant number continuing to work.
Recommendations from the summit include:
- Build a greater awareness of aging issues among employers and policymakers
- Establish a new “culture of health” in the workplace that better integrates safety and wellness programs for workers
- Create and implement “age-friendly” programs and policies
- Use new models of “job transitioning” to help workers remain productive even as their capacities for work change
- Use new standards for measuring the value of companies that include work force health as a factor
- Perform more research on the investment value of health protection and promotion in the workplace
The authors of the journal article summarizing the summit’s highlights conclude that all will benefit from following these recommendations: workers, employers, and the nation as a whole. “Workers will benefit from improved health and performance; employers will realize a more engaged and productive work force; and the nation will gain a vital, competitive work force,” they write.