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Aging Workforce Webinar Series

In part because people are living longer, policies have been shifting to promoting extended working lives. The five-generation workforce is an emerging reality.  Better and longer work careers are seen as urgently needed to finance and support the longer life of citizens.  This is already happening.  In Canada for example, about one-fifth of seniors worked in 2015, twice as much as in 1995.

But ageism is an issue, and once displaced, older workers are more likely to experience longer unemployment and to take on lower paying, lower skill work. As well, older workers are more likely to be employed in part-time, entrepreneurial, or contract work.

Another group of older adults who may face more challenging labour market circumstances are older Canadians who have a disability; chronic, prolonged or episodic illness; or who have sustained an injury.

This timely webinar series will explore these important issues.

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Recorded Webinars

Implications of an Aging Workforce: Work Injury, Recovery, Returning to Work and Remaining at Work

Friday, November 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM PT, 2:00 PM ET

The Canadian population aged 65 and over is expected to double over the next 25 years. The Canadian workforce is also ageing with the average age of workers predicted to continue to rise until 2031. However it is unclear whether Canadian companies have addressed the impact of an aging workforce on occupational health. Employers have questions about the implications for work injury, recovery, return to work and remaining at work. Findings from recent studies suggest age is not strongly associated with increased injury rates but is associated with longer return to work time once injured. Workplaces should consider strategies for healthy ageing to address an ageing workforce. 

You will learn
  • About the research on associations between age and work-related injuries as well as recovery from injury
  • That research points to programs and policies that are flexible in providing accommodation as needed and that support autonomy among workers
  • How the WHO World Report on Ageing and Health can provide guidance for workplaces
Take-home messages:
  • Older workers are not, on average, at greater risk of work-related injuries than their younger counterparts. However, if they do get hurt on the job, older workers tend, on average, to take longer to return to work.
  • Longer post-injury absences are not explained by older workers having more severe injuries or certain types of injuries, or by their working in more physically demanding jobs.
  • Longer absences post-injury are explained in part by the greater likelihood of older workers having pre-existing chronic conditions.
  • Workplace factors may explain the longer absences, including ageism.​

Dwayne Van Eerd, Ph.D.​

Scientist, Institute for Work & Health, Canada.

Dr. Dwayne Van Eerd is a scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, where he has been a researcher since 1997. He has an MSc and BSc in kinesiology from the University of Waterloo, an MSc in health research methodology from McMaster University, and a PhD in work and health from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.

Upon getting his MSc in kinesiology, Van Eerd got his start in occupational health and safety research in a clinical setting, studying musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in performing artists. Now a scientist with the Institute for Work & Health, he focuses prevention of work-related injuries and disorders.

His research projects have included evaluations of participatory organizational change programs and training interventions, as well as systematic reviews of the prevention literature. Recent projects include synthesizing practice evidence with research evidence for better practices in mental health and MSDs.


Dementia Symptoms While in Paid Employment: Impact on Occupational Competence and Occupational Participation

Wednesday, September 11 at 4:00 PM PT, 7: PM ET, Thursday, September 12 at 9:00 AM AET

Retirement is considered a rite of passage at a nominal age in developed countries including the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. However, there is growing international concern that people are living well beyond 'retirement age'. Consequently, there have been strategic shifts in government policy worldwide to increase workforce participation of older workers.  Therefore, the number of individuals presenting with signs and symptoms of a dementia whilst still in paid work is also likely to increase. Meanwhile many employers and their HR representatives consider they are ill-equipped to both recognize symptoms of cognitive decline in the workplace; and address issues associated with managing the impact on workforce participation when a worker experiences onset and progression of dementia. 

You will learn organisational policy and practice implications and strategies for:

  • addressing disparities between inherent requirements of the job and a worker's decline in functional capacity that may be related to dementia; 
  • provision of reasonable workplace adjustments in line with workforce participation choices and legal obligations; and
  • enabling a supported transition to medical retirement

Take-home messages

  • Dementia refers to a progressive set if symptoms of cognitive decline and onset is not limited to only older populations.
  • A large proportion of people who develop younger onset dementia (onset at <65years) will be working.
  • Approximately one in every 1000 people or 3.4% of the US population under the age of 65 have some form of dementia.
  • Approximately 42 000 people under the age of 65 in the UK are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Approximately 27 000 people under the age of 65 in Australia are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Approximately 16 000 people under the age of 65 in Canada are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Obtaining a timely diagnosis of dementia becomes problematic when symptoms are misattributed to other factors such as stress, substance abuse, or a normal part of ageing.
  • In contrast to normal age related changes in functional capacity, a worker with dementia may experience progressively worsening short term memory loss, difficulties with planning, problem solving and sequencing tasks, poor orientation to time and place, and problems recognizing familiar people or objects.
  • The extent to which dementia impacts on functional capacity to remain engaged in paid work differs between individuals due to variations in dementia type and progression, as well as differences in the physical, cognitive and psycho-social task complexities across occupations.

​​​​​Catherine Andrew​

Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy in the School of Health & Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Australia and Certified Practicing Ergonomist, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Australia.

Catherine Andrew is an Occupational Therapist teaching in the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy program at Southern Cross University, and PhD candidate, University of Wollongong, Australia. Since graduating in 1984, she has worked across a range of clinical settings in Australia and USA. She has specialist qualifications as a registered occupational therapy driving assessor and in 2014, co-authored the Dementia and Driving Decision Aid. Catherine is a certified practicing ergonomist with extensive experience in workplace injury management. She is currently undertaking research with people living dementia to identify enablers and barriers to extending workforce participation and supporting the experience of transitioning to retirement. ​

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Safety and Health Among Older Construction Workers in the United States

Wednesday March 20, 2019 at 11:00 AM PT, 2:00 PM ET

The labor force in the United States is rapidly growing older. Older workers are more vulnerable to risks at worksites due to possible declining cognitive and physical abilities with age. Therefore, this trend of an aging workforce is a significant challenge for occupational safety and health as well as public health.

To better understand the aging workforce, this presentation will provide information on the trends of an aging workforce, how work affects work-related injuries and illnesses for different age groups, and how health status and work limitations are changing during the aging process. Multiple national data sources in the U.S. were analyzed for this study. While this presentation focuses on construction workers, the analyses include workers in all industries as comparison.

You will learn

  • How age affects the safety and health of workers
  • Patterns of fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries among older workers
  • Health conditions and risk factors among older workers
  • National data sources for safety and health research in the U.S.

    Take-home messages

    • ​​The average age of construction workers reached 42.5 in 2016, exceeding the average age of all U.S. workers, and about 6.3 years older than it was in 1986.
    • The rate of fatal injuries for workers aged 55+ years doubled that for workers younger than 35 years old.
    • Construction workers aged 45-64 required 23 days or more out of work to recover after injury compared to 7 days off for injured workers younger than 25 years old.

    ​​​​​Xiuwen Sue Dong , DrPH​

    Data Centre Director CPWR, The Center for Construction Reasearch and Training.

    Xiuwen Sue Dong is Data Center Director for the Center for Construction Research and Training located in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has conducted occupational safety and health research, focusing on the construction industry. She is the author of numerous publications, including articles related to back pain in the workplace. Currently, she serves as PI for three projects funded by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She has a Doctoral degree in Public Health and a master’s degree in Economics.


    Catherine Brookman, PhD

    Associate Director, Knowledge Transfer and Exchange, Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders


    ​Work Participation in Older Workers: A Systematic Review of Interventions

    Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 11:00 AM PT, 2:00 PM ET

    Part of our Aging Workforce Webinar ​Series​​.

    ​​​​In these series many ideas on how to keep older workers in the workforce have been put forward.  In this seminar we want to provide an overview of the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at promoting work participation in older workers. In our study, we followed a systematic review process and a best evidence synthesis that ranked evidence as strong, moderate, limited, or insufficient. The literature was searched from inception to March 2014. Evidence from 14 studies were synthesized into different intervention categories. There was moderate evidence that work participation was improved by multi-component interventions encompassing at least two of three components (health service delivery, coordination of services, and work modifications). There was not enough evidence to recommend other interventions. Conclusions: Although there is a vast body of research on work participation of older workers, there are only a few high quality intervention studies aimed at improving work participation in this population. We recommend that multi-component interventions could be considered for implementation by practitioners to help improve work participation in older workers. Practical applications: With a moderate level of evidence, multi-component interventions could be considered for use in practice if practitioners deem it suitable for their setting. There is not enough evidence to recommend exercise interventions, pharmaceutical interventions, different types of surgeries, patient education or work accommodation alone to improve work participation. However, the lack of evidence should not be considered, as absence of effect and practitioners should continue to be creative in developing solutions.

    Upon completion of this webinar, the learner will be able to:

    • Identify invention components that are likely effective in keeping older workers in the workforce
    • Develop an evidence informed retention strategy in their workplace
    • Generate new ideas to improve workplace based strategies to keep older workers employed and engaged​


    ​Dr. Ivan Steenstra

    Manager Research & Analytics at Morneau Shepell

    Dr. Ivan Steenstra is the Manager Research & Analytics at Morneau Shepell. Ivan was trained as a human movement scientist at Groningen University and as an epidemiologist at VU University in Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD from the Department of Public & Occupational Health at VU University. He received a Post doctoral Diploma from the CIHR Strategic Training Program on Work Disability Prevention at Sherbrooke University. The focus of his study and research has always been on work and health. His interests focus on predictive modelling and implementing evidence in practice related to work, and productivity. He has (co-) authored over 40 peer reviewed publications and presented at numerous (international) conferences.

    Last Modified: 1/3/2020 1:58 PM