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.