Importance of healthy older construction workers

Older construction workers constitute a major proportion of total South African construction employment. Demographic changes and an apparent growing loss of interest among young people in careers in the construction industry are contributing to an increase in the proportion of older workers in the i...

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Published in: Acta structilia Vol. 12; no. 1; pp. 1 - 19
Main Authors: Haupt, Theo C, Deacon, Claire, Smallwood, John
Format: Journal Article
Language: English
Published: University of the Free State 06-01-2005
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Summary: Older construction workers constitute a major proportion of total South African construction employment. Demographic changes and an apparent growing loss of interest among young people in careers in the construction industry are contributing to an increase in the proportion of older workers in the industry. There is a resultant decline in the growth of new cohorts entering the labour market. Consequently the size of the older cohort relative to the size of the younger cohort increases. Additionally, general and chronic occupational and non-occupational diseases potentially reduce the overall labour force, shift the age structure due to mortality, change the skill composition of the labour supply, and increase labour turnover. This paper reports on a study that sought to establish the health status of the older worker cohort in construction. The study found that older workers had problems with several occupational and non-occupational diseases and presented with a range of musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory problems and skin infections. These diseases negatively affected work productivity in the industry and increased absenteeism. Further, the majority of workers required referral, many for unresolved non-occupational such as various skin, musculoskeletal, as well as upper and lower respiratory disorders. Recommended interventions include regular medical surveillance as part of employer-driven health promotion programs. Ouer konstruksiewerkers verteenwoordig 'n groot deel van Suid-Afrika se totale konstruksie werkers. Demografiese veranderinge en 'n toenemende gebrek aan belangstelling in beroepe in die konstruksiebedryf onder die jeug dra by tot die groei van ouer werkers in die industrie. Algemene en kroniese beroeps en nie-beroeps verwante siektes verminder die groot meerderheid arbeidsmag, die ouderdom-struktuur verskuif as gevolg van sterftes, die vaardigheid-samestelling van arbeidverskaffing verskuif en arbeidsomset word verhoog. Hierdie artikel doen verslag oor 'n studie wat gedoen is op die gesondheid status van die ouer werkerskorps in die konstruksiebedryf. Die studie het getoon dat ouer werkers probleme ondervind met onder andere spierkwale, asemhalingsprobleme en vel infeksies. Hierdie siektes beïnvloed produktiwiteit en dra by tot afwesigheid van die werk. Die meerderheid werkers het verwysings gevra vir onopgelosde nie-beroepsverwante siektes soos verskeie vel, spier en asemhaling siektes. Werkgewers kan gesondheidsbewusmakings programme aanbied om werkers te help.
ISSN: 1023-0564