Age-related injury and compensation claim rates in heavy industry

M. Guest, May Boggess, D. A. Viljoen, J. M. Duke, C. N. Culvern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Although ageing workers face specific health and safety concerns, conflicting evidence exists regarding the effects of age on workplace injury rates and workers' compensation claims. Aims: To examine injury and workers' compensation claim rates by age and injury type in an aluminium smelter over a 9-year period. Methods: Routinely collected data for workplace injuries and workers' compensation claims were retrieved for the period from 1997 to 2005. Results: The study included a total of 709 workers who experienced 2281 at-work injuries and submitted 446 claims. In 1997, 16% of employees were aged 50 or over; by 2005 that proportion had more than doubled to 35%. Injury and claim rates in all age groups did not change significantly during this period. Workers younger than 30 years of age had the highest injury rates, with differences most significant for injuries other than sprains and strains. Claim rates were not significantly different across age groups. Conclusions: These findings do not provide evidence to support the notion that older workers sustain more injuries and are more likely to claim compensation for their injuries. Our findings demonstrate that in this workplace, older workers were able to maintain their ability to work safely. This contrasts with the finding that younger workers had the highest injury and claim rates. While adapting to the needs of an ageing workforce, employers should not lose sight of the need to nurture a strong culture of working safely among their youngest workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Ageing
  • Occupational health
  • Occupational injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Workers' compensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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