The Aging Workforce and Impacts on Ergonomic Design 

Presenter: Blake McGowan, CPE, managing consultant and ergonomics engineer, Humantech

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2006 and 2016 there will be an 84.3 percent increase in workers age 75 and older, an 83.4 percent increase in workers between the ages of 65 and 74, and a 36.5 percent increase in workers between the ages of 55 and 64. Many industrial job duties require physical demands such as lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, reaching, climbing and kneeling. Each of these job demands require forceful, repetitive or sustained muscle contractions. For the younger worker, the physical capabilities for job duties are well-defined and have resulted in the publication of several design standards. Unfortunately, the physical capabilities of the older worker have not been studied as extensively, and therefore design standards for older workers are harder to find. The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the most relevant physiology research and the cutting-edge ergonomic design guidelines for the aging workforce.

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