Importance of healthy older construction workers

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 8
  • Abstract:

    English: 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 dis orders, respiratory problems and skin infections. These diseases negatively af fected 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.