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A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Ageing and Occupational Safety and Health

The main objective of this study is to find answers for two research questions: Does ageing have a preventive or an aggravating effect on occupational health and safety (OHS)? How do the potential moderators of measurement of accidents, gender, occupation and cut-off age influence the relationship between ageing and OHS?

To fill the gap of existing reviews, this study presents an extensive review of the last 30 years of research on age-related occupational accident risks using the meta-analysis technique and discusses the empirical limits and contributions of the scientific research conducted over this period. Meta-analysis is a technique used by researchers to synthesize findings from multiple studies to produce average results. A key advantage of this approach is that the aggregation of information leads to a more robust measure of various positive and negative factors derived from literature.

A total of 31 studies were extracted from the 20 articles for analysis. The measurement was classified into three categories denoted as outcome, which included occupational health and non-fatal and severe/fatal accidents. Results indicated that older workers are more vulnerable than the younger ones. Specifically, older workers have less occupational health problems and lower non-fatal accident incidence but higher severe/fatal accident incidence than younger workers. Older workers are vulnerable in high physical demand occupations, such as construction and manufacturing. In addition, accidents, such as slips and falls, have relatively higher prevalence for older workers than in other types of accidents. All these findings have profound implications for specifically planning work in the future for an ageing workforce, such as accelerating robotics and digitalization of work in low-skilled sectors and adopting practical policies for prolonging working life in high-skilled sectors.

References: Peng, L., & Chan, A. H. S. (2019). A meta-analysis of the relationship between ageing and occupational safety and health. Safety Science, 112, 162–172.