Protecting Older Workers

As our society ages, many churches turn to their retired population when hiring employees and recruiting volunteers. Older people today are more active than in previous generations and have a desire to remain productive. Because they are remaining active, they also are staying healthier.

Church leaders encounter new challenges to keep everyone safe and free from injuries, including older employees and volunteers. Whether you have an aging custodial staff, elderly volunteers working in your daycare center or older workers volunteering on any number of projects, Church Insurance Management with the help of GuideOne Insurance offers the following tips for protecting older employees and volunteers.

Pre-Placement Screening

Utilizing the services of an occupational physician to evaluate the physical capabilities of job applicants serves two purposes. First, the screening identifies applicants who appear healthy but have a health condition or limitation that precludes them from performing the required job tasks, and more importantly, would otherwise be identified at the time of injury or accident. Second, the screening provides a baseline that may limit the level of restorative obligation at the time of injury. This can significantly reduce the cost of a workers’ compensation claim.

Implementation of additional safety measures for your older employees and volunteers will reduce potential for injury while improving the working conditions and their productivity.

General Safety Tips

Physical Accommodations

Eliminate: Heavy lifting and long reaches; Squatting, stooping and kneeling, and tasks that require sudden movements, such as twisting.

Avoid over-the-shoulder work to reduce wear and tear on the shoulders, back and neck.

Hazardous Work

With age, our ability to hear and see, as well as our sense of balance, diminishes. Older employees and volunteers should not be assigned work on ladders, roofs or elevated platforms.

Encourage older employees and volunteers to address vision, hearing and other physical problems that you identify in the pre-placement health screening.

Encourage employees and volunteers to work at a safe pace, and include frequent breaks.


Perform hazard awareness training to advise employees and volunteers of workplace job risks. Be certain that safety rules are understood and implemented.

Frequently monitor older workers to ensure they can handle assigned tasks. This is especially important if their job duties and tasks have changed.

Maintain equipment, tools and facilities to ensure ease of use and safety.

Provide proper personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses and gloves.

Train workers to perform tasks and lifts close to the body to minimize reaching, overexertion and to the amount of force required.

For more information on how to protect all your workers and volunteers, regardless of age, or to learn more about the programs available to your church, contact the risk managers at Church Insurance Management. Call us toll free at 800-388-2478.

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