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Physical Requirements Associated With the Work of Aging Workers in the European Union

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Physical requirements of work should decline with advancing age because the dimensions of physical work capacity of individuals decline with age, too. The Second European Survey on Working Conditions in 1995/1996 was used to study the prevalences (%) of poor work postures, handling heavy loads, and repetitive work in the representative sample of employed people in the 15 European Union member states. Exposure to physical requirements was still common in the European Union. Nearly 50% of older workers (age 45 years or more) were exposed to repetitive work, about 30% had poor work postures and 15% to 20% were handling heavy loads at least half of the working time. The physical requirements were as common for older and younger (less than 45 years of age) workers. The physical requirements were most common in Mediterranean countries and least common in the northern part of Europe. The differences in prevalence rates of exposures between the countries were large, from three- to fivefold. Favorable differences between older and younger workers were more notable for older men than for older women in poor work postures and repetitive work. However, older women had less handling of heavy loads than older men. The results showed that the need for better adjustments of physical requirements with age is still very relevant in the European Union and demands urgently appropriate measures in working life.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Physiology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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