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Are elderly construction workers sufficiently fit for heavy manual labour?

This study analysed the work ability of elderly construction workers. Forty male construction workers, 20 young (age < 33 yrs) and 20 senior (age>44 yrs) workers, were tested regarding aerobic power (VO2max) and muscle strength. The aerobic demand of a number of tasks in construction work was measured and compared with the workers' aerobic power. VO2max was higher for the young, and they performed better on most muscle strength tests. The measurements showed that about half of the senior workers had to use more than 30% of their maximum oxygen uptake on some tasks. In conclusion, because elderly construction workers decline in physical fitness, they are more exposed to overload when performing heavy manual work than are their younger peers. Increasing their individual fitness or adjusting their workload may be important for staying in the workforce for such workers.

Jebens, Einar; Mamen, Asgeir; Medbø, Jon Ingulf; Knudsen, Oddvar; Veiersted, Kaj Bo
Ergonomics 57: 1–13
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