Fall prevention and perception of physical demands of work


Fall-related injuries in the workplace are common, costly, and potentially preventable. Every year in Ontario, more than 11,000 long time claims are filed because of injuries sustained from a slip, trip or fall at the workplace. Interestingly, despite intervention efforts, over the past 10 years the percentage of total claims associated with falls has remained relatively unchanged. Accordingly, additional research is required to provide an evidence base to support more effective intervention strategies.

There are important health and safety issues associated with Canada’s aging workforce. The risk of falling significantly increases with age. For that reasons it is imperative from both ethical and business perspectives to develop targeted strategies for reducing injury risk for older workers.

Finally, considering Canada’s demographic shift towards an older working population, there is relatively sparse available data about the interplay between the physical demands associated with work and worker capabilities. Furthermore, our lab has found little current literature about how perceptions of workplace physical demands potentially influence retirement planning decisions.


The overall objectives of the study are to test the hypotheses that:

  1. Balance control during simulated occupational tasks is affected by age
  2. Perceptions about factors that influence retirement planning (most specifically the physical demands associated with work) will differ as a function of age. This study will add to the evidence base available to support age-specific fall-prevention policies, in addition to providing pilot data regarding the potential evolution of retirement planning perceptions across the lifespan.

Summary of findings

Twenty-four participants will be recruited. The study will involve tracking kinetic and kinematic variables during simulated occupational tasks, and then comparing the results across age groups.

This project will provide insights into whether commonly used recommendations for reducing fall-related injuries are appropriate for older persons approaching retirement, or who have recently retired. In addition, it will provide insights into the factors that influence decisions related to retirement, and pre-retirement career plans, with a particular focus on the potential influence of workplace physical demands. The results from this project will provide the basis for a larger program of research broadly addressing healthy aging and workability in older adults in the years leading up to retirement.

Project members: 
Undergraduate Fellow
Faculty Supervisor
Project time line: 
May, 2013 to August, 2013
Last updated: January 08, 2017