Insight into the Presence of Female and Mature Aged Laborers in the Contemporary Workforce
Several implications revolve around the increasing numbers of female and mature age workers in the workforce throughout the world, not the least of which involve job-related injuries, insurance coverage, and worker's compensation settlements. Several factors have attributed to this occurrence, such as an overall improvement in health and living conditions as furnished by technological advances, longer life spans, as well as numerous sociological factors which enable and encourage women to become financially independent and support themselves. All of these aspects of the contemporary workforce indicate that the trend of women and mature age laborers entering and maintaining positions in diverse industries and occupations is not likely to change or decline in the years to come. As such, it becomes important to examine just what effects these particular stratifications of laborers will have on the workforce to determine what, if any, ramifications their burgeoning presence has on this resource which is so vital to global economies. The results of such analysis consistently prove that age and gender is a definite contributing factor to the costs, duration, prevalence and severity of work related injuries.
Although it is a confirmed fact that women outnumber men (significantly so, in certain populations) throughout the world, it is interesting to note that even with the increased presence of women in the workforce, men are injured more frequently and incur injuries which result in death far more frequently than their female counterparts do. Several reasons are responsible for this fact, of which one of the most salient is the type of occupations which each gender occupies. Although there can usually be found examples of either sex in most professions, some careers, such as construction, are predominantly occupied by men and have inherent high injury (and even mortality) rates. Occupations such as mining, construction, and farming have leading mortality rates, and are jobs in which women may work, but certainly not as frequently as their male counterparts do.
On the whole, women tend to occupy positions which are more nurturing and supportive in nature than those for men, which tend to be more managerial, technical, or highly demanding in manual, physical labor. Women can more frequently be found in employment roles which involve high levels of repetition, little control and even less decision-making power, all of which contributes to the nature of injuries they are far more likely to incur than men are. Even in cases where men and women occupy the same positions, men are likely to be paid more and to be advanced further and sooner than women are, as well as to be designated different tasks. These factors, in addition to the plethora of domestic responsibilities women have outside of the workplace, explain the pattern of work related injuries for women to frequently include stress-related illness and afflictions related to over-exertion such as musculoskeletal disorders -- the latter of which may include chronic issues with their backs, hands, and knees.
In much the same way that it may surprise scholars to learn that women suffer fewer work-related injuries than men do and despite the former being outnumbered by the latter, it may be surprising to learn that younger laborers, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 24, are far more likely to sustain injuries on the job than mature age workers, who are significantly older and are often considered more frail and vulnerable. This tendency becomes amplified when examining the number of emergency room visits related to work related injuries which 15- to 24-year-olds incur when compared to that of mature age workers, as a study conducted by the American Center for Disease Control illustrates. Several aspects of the constituency of mature age workers attribute to their decreased likelihood of injury, such as their considerable advantages of experience at a profession, their increased vigilance and knowledge of safety measures, as well as a prolonged time period during which they may develop mechanisms for coping with any potential job hazards their career presents. Also, the most infirm of mature age workers are likely to have already retired or withdrawn from the workforce, leaving only the most savvy and prudent of laborers still in the workplace at advanced ages.
The general perception, however, is that while mature age workers are less likely to become injured while at work than their younger counterparts are, once they do so, their injuries are likely to be more costly, more prolonged, and more severe in nature. In fact, there are a number of reasons that indicate that it is more difficult for mature aged workers to receive worker's compensation than for youthful laborers to do so. The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compesation Act 1988 prohibits incapacity benefits for laborers 65 years and older, which means they are not eligible for payment for their time away from work due to injury. Such payment has traditionally been the largest component of workmen's compensation costs.
What is definitely confirmed, however, is the fact that mature aged workers, loosely defined as 55 years old or older, are more prone to encounter fatalities than virtually any other age group, as a study conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates. This occurrence stands in direct contrast to the information that younger workers (between the ages of 15 and 24) are more likely to be injured than mature aged workers. However, the latter tends to receive more fatal injuries and more permanent disabilities, while the former incurs a greater number of temporary injuries which they are eventually able to overcome. The end result is that both of these age stratifications represent the greatest risk of physical and psychological ailment at the workplace, although they do so with two varying degrees of severity for employers, insurance companies, and workmen's compensation benefits. Both the duration and the amount of remuneration for the injuries of younger laborers is significantly lower than that for their older counterparts, although both age groups may be considered the least productive of laborers due to the incidence, and the severity, of their respective injuries. While younger workers have a higher rate of on the job incidence of injury, mature age workers have a far greater degree of severity in the nature of their afflictions. It should be noted, however, that the total number of injuries may be a more determining factor for employers and insurance companies, since the vast majority of workplace injuries are typically temporary disabilities.
These findings for mature age workers, however, are somewhat tempered by the proclivity of older workers to retire, particularly once they reach the age of 65. While the standard perception is that older workers will be less productive and of use than younger workers due to conditions of physical and psychological infirmity, it is refuted in part by the incidence of retirement for older laborers, many of whom willingly cease working before they reach the age of 65. What has proven to be a far more important factor in the incidence of work-related injuries, however, has less to do with age and can be attributed more to gender, which plays a substantial role in the choice of occupation for workers. According to statistical data from the United States Bureau of Labor, occupations which have traditionally been considered "blue collar" -- such as precision, production and craft workers; machine operators, assemblers and inspectors; transport and material moving laborers as well as handlers, cleaners, helpers and laborers -- have a greater incidence of on the job injury than white collar jobs. Although there are certainly female laborers in many of these occupations, the greater number of such laborers consists of male employees -- which also reinforces the statistics which indicate that men suffer more workplace injuries than women do. Durable manufacturing and service workers also have relatively high rates of physical and psychological afflictions incurred at the workplace, although these professions are generally less gender specific than the aforementioned "blue collar" ones.
The variable of occupation in the formulas for incidence and severity of work related injury, then, is a crucial determinant in not only gender differences between laborers but also those for age. The ramifications of the data related to occupation seem to imply that the type of work performed between mature age and younger workers (particularly those under 25) is significantly different, and that there are a fair amount of mature age workers who do not engage in traditional blue collar labor, or that they have retired by the time they have reached advanced ages. Such a conclusion can be reached after systematically analyzing current work-related injury trends which indicate, for example, that there is a greater likelihood of a 55-year-old employee engaged in administrative work than laboring as a mechanic at an automobile boy shop.
However, what is particularly enlightening regarding the comparison of injuries in the workplace among these various groups is the rate of injury. Despite the influx of female workers joining the workforce in…