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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31823fdf9d
Original Articles

The Impact of Aging on Work Disability and Return to Work: Insights From Workers' Compensation Claim Records

Berecki-Gisolf, Janneke MD, PhD; Clay, Fiona J. PhD; Collie, Alex PhD; McClure, Roderick J. MD, PhD

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Objective: To assess the impact of an aging workforce on (1) the incidence of work-related injury or disease and (2) the return-to-work (RTW) process.

Methods: Workers' compensation claims (from 2001 to 2004) from Victoria, Australia (n = 59,525) were analyzed. Time off work was defined in terms of time until first RTW, number of workdays compensated, and work disability recurrences.

Results: The incidence of lost-time claims was 7.54 per 1000 worker-years; incidence increased with age to reach a maximum at ages 50 to 54 years. Days until first return also increased with age, as did the sum of compensated days. Recurrences were common (37%) and also increased with age.

Conclusions: The aging workforce will lead to substantial increase in work disability. Besides general disease and injury preventative practices, policies could aim to provide tailored RTW programs for aging workers.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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