Supporting Older Workers at Work: A Conceptual Framework

E. Kent Gillin

More efforts are needed to address the accommodation needs of the aging workforce and to inform accommodation strategies used in the workplace. Understanding how aging affects functional ability and productive work is a very complex problem. Research evidence supporting the adaptation of the workplace or work processes in keeping with the needs of workers as they age is lacking. The purpose of this presentation is to overview a conceptual framework for guiding employers, health professionals, workers, and policy makers in implementing changes to support worker productivity and health as they age. Current theories of aging and models of functioning and disability evident in the International Classification of Function Disability and Health (ICF) underscore the framework. An analysis of biological, psychological and sociological theories of aging suggest that, for the most part, sociological theories of aging contribute the most in illuminating when a worker is too old to work. However, beyond this, a sociological perspective and the contextual factors found in the ICF support a holistic understanding of issues that influence functioning of older workers. Participants in this presentation will be introduced to the framework and explore opportunities for how employers and health professionals might use this to guide changes in workplace settings or polices. A case study will be used to demonstrate how the framework might be applied by stakeholders working collaboratively to design and implement accommodations for older workers.

Presentation Slides:
Slides 1-14
Slides 15-27
Slides 28-40
Slides 41-50

E. Kent Gillin received his Master of Science degree from the University of Waterloo, Ontario and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences specializing in older adult independence and driving. Kent has worked on accommodation related issues internationally, within private and public sectors, negotiating change and specializing in conflict resolution specific to ergonomic and environmental working conditions. He was the president of a very successful occupational and environmental health and safety company for fifteen years prior to returning to the University of Western Ontario in 2003. His major areas of research have concentrated on the aging worker, accommodation and ergonomic changes that maintain worker independence. He has conducted field research and consulted to numerous industries, food processing plants, construction projects, automotive and parts manufacturing facilities, government ministries, hospitals and nursing homes. Kent is well known as a keynote speaker for his energetic and informative seminars. He serves as a part-time professor of ergonomics at the University of Western Ontario .

Presentation from the 'Workplace Accommodations: State of the Science' conference, September 15-16, 2005, Atlanta, GA