Ageing productively through design: a survey of cement workers

By 2020 it is predicted that there will be nearly five million people aged 50 and over in the UK. People’s ability to stay in work is affected by their health, and ageing can contribute to increased physical illness. With the need for a longer working life, it is essential to understand what effect work environments and equipment design will have in relation to healthy ageing. Through this, it is possible to establish good design practice and ergonomics to promote healthy working through life. For this investigation, a questionnaire survey was conducted with workers from a cement manufacturer in the UK. It focused on how work environments and equipment design affect peoples work ability. Furthermore, individual worker experiences around working laterinto life were captured. Particular attention was given to the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms, and worker perceptions with regard to their physical and mental wellbeing at work. Musculoskeletal symptoms peaked in the lower back for the workers at the cement manufacturers and it is likely that work activity; sitting, standing and lifting, as well as equipment including; PPE, computers and tools, has an impact on work ability. Also, it was shown through a set of age related statements, that there may be a link between work ability and age in relation to peoples physical and mental abilitiesto perform job tasks. The results of the questionnaire survey will be presented and discussed with reference to age and job activity description.