. "3 The Changing Workforce." Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade's Occupational Safety and Health Personnel. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel
require 2 weeks to recover before returning to work, twice the recuperation time that younger workers need—a median of 10 days for those involving workers over age 55 compared with a median of 4 or 5 days for workers under age 35. The reasons for this are that workers over age 55 both sustain more especially disabling injuries than younger workers and take longer to recuperate from similar injuries (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1996). Since the number of workers in the over age 65 age group is projected to grow as a share of the workforce as the aging baby boomers move into it in increasing numbers, there are likely to be fewer injuries and illnesses, but the injuries and illnesses will be more severe ones and will require longer recuperation times. OSH professionals involved in case management and back-to-work programs need to be aware of this difference, which is one example why age-specific information on physical and cognitive capabilities should be included in the future training of OSH professionals.
In regard to the other demographic trend, that is, that Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians will make up a larger share of the workforce, the types of data needed to make a reasonable estimate of the effects of that trend on workplace injuries and illnesses do not exist. Although data on the number of injuries and illnesses by race and ethnicity are available, the information necessary to calculate the rates of injuries and illnesses—namely, hours worked by race by industry and occupation—are not available. It is safe to say, however, that any factor, be it cultural assumptions and habits or low levels of comprehension of the English language, that impedes communication of health and safety information is likely to increase the number of workplace injuries and illnesses.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TRAINING NEEDS OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PERSONNEL
The changing demographic makeup of the workforce is an important element in determining the training needs of future OSH personnel. Clearly, the racial and ethnic compositions of future entrants to the workforce will be different from those who are currently in the labor force. Trainers must be cognizant of the fact that new workforce entrants are more likely to be members of a minority group, women, and immigrants with various levels of English proficiency and with low levels of literacy. Also, the minority groups entering the labor force tend not to be distributed uniformly across the country. These changes are important to both the education and the recruitment of future OSH personnel. All aspiring OSH professionals must be made aware of ethnic and cultural differences that may affect implementation of OSH programs (for example, distrust of health care professionals). In addition, the committee believes that OSH