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Older construction workers – a study of related injuries, underlying causes and estimated costs
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The construction workforce in South Africa is one that is ageing. This is a global phenomenon and necessitates research into how the older cohort of the construction work force can be optimally engaged. Optimum worker productivity, high quality products that meet the specifications required, and high levels of occupational safety and health are integral factors in achieving a sustainable workforce. The purpose of the research was to quantify the injury rates among older construction workers as well as to determine the events leading to these injuries, the nature of the injuries and the bodily locations affected. The costs associated with these injuries were investigated to understand whether there were any discernable differences between injuries to older and younger workers. Apart from the literature review, two statistical construction injury databases were analysed. Qualitative questionnaire based interviews were designed to gather information related to older construction workers. Questionnaires were sent to construction site managers to gauge their perceptions of older construction workers. The statistical data was collected from the Western Cape region and was for the period 1998 through 2005 while the interviews and questionnaire data were collected during 2008. xv The potential benefits to industry are a consolidation of injury information relating to older construction workers. This should assist construction managers with developing policies and implementing strategies to prevent or at least minimise injuries and minimise the related costs, with the aim of more effectively utilising their older workers and ultimately achieving a more sustainable construction industry. The study found that older workers sustained less injuries in total compared with younger workers. No discernable variances occurred between younger and older workers when it came to events leading to injuries (causes) and the type/nature of injuries. It was, however, found that for the body parts affected, older workers were more prone to certain injuries. Older workers sustained less severe injuries compared with their younger counterparts but the injuries were more costly. The research findings supported the notion that older workers receive less training than younger workers.
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