Falls among older people in Australia pose a significant public health concern. According to recent data, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among older adults in the country. As the ageing workforce continues to grow worldwide, ensuring the safety and well-being of older workers has become a growing priority. In Australia, the issue of falls among older employees has gained significant attention.

A recent study from Saitama, Japan, has resulted in the development of an Occupational Fall Risk Assessment Tool (OFRAT) specifically designed to assess fall risk in older workers. This easy-to-use tool demonstrates promising predictive validity and reliability, offering an invaluable resource for occupational physicians to implement effective preventive strategies to safeguard the occupational health of older employees.

The study assessed baseline fall risk for 1113 older workers, considering various factors such as age, gender, fall history, physical work involvement, medication usage, visual and hearing impairment. The cumulative scores derived from these measures were then classified into four grades to determine fall risk levels: very low, low, moderate, and high.

During the one-year follow-up period, 112 participants experienced a total of 214 falls during occupational activities. Statistical analysis revealed a significant association between higher grades on the OFRAT and increased incidence rates of falls.

“Participants with higher risk grades demonstrated higher incidence for falls compared to those with very low risk grades. The OFRAT also exhibited excellent test-retest reliability,” said co-investigator of the tool Dr Yoshiro Okubo, a member of the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute and Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia.

“OFRAT as a valid and reliable tool for estimating the occupational fall risk in older workers. By proactively addressing fall hazards in the workplace through implementation, organisations can prioritise the safety and well-being of older workers, ensuring a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees.”

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