“I’m fifty, and I want to work until I’m 80, can you help me set up for that?”
This wise question was posed to me while I worked my booth at the Ag Expo in Lansing, Michigan last summer. If a worker knows how long he wants to keep working before retirement, why not set up the work place for maximum efficiency and minimum pain? Our bodies are not like the old tractor…there is no way to rig them back into working condition using baler twine and chewing gum. So, we have to give our bodies a break. When your muscles and joints start to ache, plan a different course of action.
If you’re already wore out, but sold on the idea of “dying with your boots on” then think about products and work methods that will help you to keep working and feel better. It will save you time, medical bills and pain relievers. As workers, we are not as concerned with “getting our exercise”. We all get plenty of that. Our biggest concern is saving our energy and our body so that we are still going strong at 8 pm tonight and 50 years from now.
As tens of thousands of baby boomers are in the 50 to 68-year-old range, there is a great need for planning to use adaptive equipment to make it easier to maintain their own homes and property.
Boomers won’t stop working!
According to Gallup polls, 39% of baby boomers plan to retire after the age of 66 and 10% plan to never retire. The poll from January 20, 2014 http://www.gallup.com/poll/166952/baby-boomers-reluctant-retire.aspx explains that for financial reasons and from being socially “wired to work”, people born between 1946 and 1964 will be a major percentage of the workforce for years to come.
Average-age farmers are also in their upper 50’s and face increasing age-related physical impairments as they continue working. Accommodating typical tasks that are limited by aging conditions while still young will help reduce the effects of aging in place on the farm. The following section explains general tools and methods that would help a 50-year-old worker continue for 30+ years.
Universal Design in the Trades Workplace
- Working safely is always a high priority. When a farmer has an aging condition, it is especially important that safety measures be taken to prevent secondary injuries. A farmer must be responsible to follow medical advice and participate only in those activities which can be comfortably performed with a low risk of mishap.
- When working alone, make sure someone knows the planned work site and time frame for the job to be completed. Always carry a mobile communication device.
- Rest at regular intervals during the day to reduce the risk of secondary injuries.
- Analyze daily chore/task/work habits to minimize the amount of stress on your body and steps taken in a day. Preventative health measures, such as padded mats on concrete floors, taken today will help you be able to continue working without degrading your health in the future.
- Take measures to reduce the risk of back injuriescommon among farm workers.
- Wear boots with high-quality insoles to support the ankles
- Lift with correct posture, and do not twist the back while lifting.
- Carry loads close to your body, split into 2 smaller loads, or use a cart.
- Maintain quality seats on equipment, and set them to proper height.
- Use long-handled tools to increase leverage and reduce bending.
- Limit or alternate repetitive, awkward and strenuous tasks to rest the back.
- Universal DesignRecommendations
- Step-free entry areas into farm buildings, and keep pathways free of clutter
- Lever-style handles on doors & cabinets instead of twist knobs
- Store frequently used items between 18-48” above the floor, mobile tool storage near work areas, and no overhead storage requiring steps or ladders
- Multi-height work benches with comfortable seating with switches and outlets at the front of the work bench.
- Floor-marking tape of paint for keeping equipment storage areas organized and clear of clutter, tool storage racks with outlines of tools for organization
- Large-grip tool handles and cordless power tools.
But None of Us Will Live Forever!
Someday, each of us will die, even if we do still have our boots on doing the work we love. And when we die, we will stand before an Almighty God in heaven and answer for the deeds we have done. Maybe we have tried living our life with “no excuses”, but that great judgment day will truly be the moment of no excuses. Every single person, except Jesus Christ, ever to walk the face of the earth has sinned at one point or another. The only way to be excused for our sins, forgiven and made right before God, is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent for our evil ways, and live in holiness with God by the power of His Holy Spirit. Please call me today to learn more about the eternal Hope and Joy found only in Christ Jesus.