Aging and MSD: Strategies for older workers


Dwayne Van Eerd, Ivan Steenstra, Kim Cullen, Emma Irvin

Key messages

  • The population is aging globally with a concomittant aging in the available workforce
  • A WHO Ageing and Health framework released in 2015 provides strategies for creating environments that support healthy aging that can be adapted for workplaces:
  1. Combatting ageism: there is inconclusive evidence that MSD are more prevalent in older workers or that older workers are less productive yet these attitudes prevail 
  2. Enabling autonomy: it is clear that increased autonomy can support older workers work longer
  3. Supporting healthy aging in policies: workplace policies that support accommodation and development are needed
  • More research on fatigue and recovery in older workers should be a priority

Implications for the prevention of MSD

It is of the authors’ opinions that the strategies related to creating age friendly environments described by the WHO extend to workplaces. There is little scientific research on solutions for older workers with MSD. However the literature on older workers provides some practical support and direction for workplace solutions that reflect the WHO strategies. Specific research evaluating the implementation of strategies for aging workers is required.

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CRE-MSD Position Paper (4 page PDF)