With population ageing, the number of older workers is increasing and the number of work-related injuries in older people is also increasing. Occupational patterns and work-related injury patterns vary with age. This study aimed to compare the incidence and characteristics of work-related injuries in older and younger workers in Korea.
We conducted a retrospective review of the characteristics of workers hospitalised with work-related injuries from January 2010 to December 2014, using data from the National Hospital Discharge In-Depth Injury Survey in South Korea. The analysis was stratified by age into older (aged ≥65 years) and younger (aged 20–64 years) workers.
The hospitalisation rate in older workers was double that of younger workers (2014 IRR: 2.06, 95% CI 1.53 to 2.76). Compared with workers of conventional working-age, a higher proportion of injured older workers were female (33.1% vs 13.6%, p<0.001), injured due to falls (40.8% vs 28.5%) and injured while working on a farm (46.5% vs 6.3%, p<0.001). In older workers, work-related injuries were seasonal and peaked during summer, but there was little seasonality in injuries among younger workers.
Older workers are more vulnerable to work-related injuries and have a different profile of work-related injuries from younger workers. Age-related differences in the injury profile need to be considered when developing workplace injury prevention policies and programmes, and the specific vulnerabilities of older workers need to be addressed.