The Amazingly Stupid Race
One of the most ridiculous races of all time took place during NBA All-Star Week in Vegas in February: Charles Barkley, a 350-lb. former NBA All-Star player in his mid 40s, challenged NBA ref Dick Bavetta, 67, to a foot race.
The bean pole-thin Bavetta couldn't keep up with roly-poly Barkley who crossed the finish line running backwards (and landed on his butt). Bavetta looked like a 67-year-old grandfather that he is - but very determined, moving like a tortoise trying to keep up with a grossly overweight hare.
How does this have anything to do with safety in the workplace?? Glad you asked!
The latest stats for workplace deaths shows that workers over 65 years of age are SEVEN times more likely to be killed on the job than workers age 15 - 24!
What?? You're probably thinking, aren't older, more experienced adults more cautious and more aware of dangers on the job? Isn't it just youth that suffers from the delusion of invincibility/immortality? Aren't older workers more comfortable questioning employers about safety than are younger, less confident workers??
All true.. but still, older workers are much more vulnerable to workplace injury. Why? Because reflexes, mobility and balance all go downhill in the second half of life.
You only had to watch Dick Bavetta run the 30-foot race to see this for yourself. He just couldn't get his legs to move fast enough - even to outpace a man as fat as Barkley.
Now add to that equation the loss of hearing and eyesight - and you get a pretty complete picture of why older workers are less safe than younger ones.
What's a company to do about this? Most businesses in North America badly need the experience leadership of older skilled workers… should they ignore the slower reflexes and higher risks? Tough call.
If you're 55 years old and still think our elders can win the race and stay competitive, let me know! But make it quick - before my eyesight and other reflexes disappear! ;)