Older workers

Employers should take the workforce age into account in Covid-19 risk assessments

Since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit in early 2020, it has been clear that age is a key risk factor, and that older people are at the highest risk of ill-health and death. 

As a result, employers should be taking the age of their workforce into account when performing their Covid-19 risk assessments and ensuring that the right measures are in place to protect older workers. 

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed that there are no specific measures that must be taken just for older workers, but that employers must take all ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure their health and safety. This means they must do everything that they can with the resources available to protect older workers from Covid.

One potential reason why older workers may be more affected is their greater likelihood of having an underlying health condition. 

The Association of Local Authority Medical Advisers (ALAMA) has developed a Covid19 Medical Risk Assessment tool, and this may be used when the risk assessment is performed or reviewed, to ensure that all relevant factors are captured.  See https://alama.org.uk/covid-19-medical-risk-assessment/  

It is important to understand that the current Covid pandemic has not suspended the Equality Act 2010, and that reasonable adjustments must be made where these are legally required. 

This is particularly important where older workers are working from home.

They may not have the correct equipment or work environment to work without harming their health; and the use of digital technologies and online communication can cause exclusion and isolation from work and social activities. 

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