Love the one you’re with

You should consider embracing your aging workforce.

During NRCA’s Midyear Committee Meetings in July, an offhand remark caught my attention. A contractor said: “It’s great we are talking about getting the industry in front of new recruits, but what are we doing about older workers? Some of them can only handle the physical labor until they hit about 50, and then where do they go? They are too young to retire.”

This got me thinking: What can roofing contractors offer loyal employees whose bodies can no longer handle demanding physical labor?

Turning some of these workers into trainers is an obvious solution, but a company only needs so many trainers.

In the article “A Guide on How You Can Manage your Aging Construction Workforce,” Dade City, Fla.-based construction management software company Pro Crew Schedule provides some helpful advice.

First, the article notes an aging workforce has its advantages. For instance, older workers are more engaged than younger workers. They also have a higher level of professionalism and maturity and tend to have an excellent work ethic. Plus, they have institutional knowledge and work experience that may offset physical declines.

But the reduced capacity to perform physical labor can be addressed in various ways.

Most injuries construction workers experience are cumulative trauma disorders commonly caused by a lack of flexibility and strength.

Instituting wellness programs can help reduce further injury. By insisting workers (young and old) stretch at the start of each daily shift, you can decrease the risk of older workers being injured while on the job.

The article also suggests you do the following for aging workers:

  • Decrease their time stooping, squatting and kneeling.
  • Keep them from working above the shoulder as much as possible. Rotate job tasks and processes.
  • Reduce highly vigorous activities such as pulling, twisting and lifting.
  • Eliminate trip, slip and fall exposures.
  • Provide assistive devices such as dollies, hand trucks and hoists for material handling.

These small accommodations not only will show aging workers you value them and the work they do but it also may provide you with a more stable workforce until these workers truly reach retirement age.

AMBIKA PUNIANI REID is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA’s vice president of communications.



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