Constructive ageing: a survey of workers in the construction industry

The age demographic of the workforce is increasing across Europe (Griffiths 1997, Morschhäuser, Sochert 2006, Ilmarinen 2006) and the World (Ross 2010). It is important to investigate the effects of workplace design on healthy ageing. To facilitate this, a questionnaire survey (n=106) was used to identify workplace opportunities and barriers to working later into life at a major UK construction company as part of a larger cross-industry study (n=815?). At this company ~33% (n=29) of respondents were aged ≥50. The survey investigated the impacts of workplace equipment and environments on people‟s ability to perform job tasks in relation to age. Participants were asked to respond to statements and questions about; musculoskeletal symptoms, work ability, their work environment, equipment, activities and personal attitudes and experiences towards ageing in the workplace. The survey findings were triangulated by interviewing a sample of workers. At this company, musculoskeletal symptoms peaked for period prevalence in the lower back 44% (n=42), followed by the knees 33% (n=32). Point prevalence of reported musculoskeletal symptoms was highest in the knees, 24% (n=23). Several respondents also directly attributed the symptoms to work tasks. The equipment regularly used to perform job tasks included; computers, furniture, PPE as well as many hand tools. Workplace equipment to perform job tasks, the environment and work activities, can impact on musculoskeletal symptoms experienced by respondents.