BACKGROUND: The workforce is ageing. While those in relatively sedentary occupations may be largely unaffected, for those employed in more physically demanding occupations, and the organizations who employ them, this poses a challenge.
OBJECTIVE: In this cross-sectional survey of outdoor council workers in South Australia we sought to address the challenge of an ageing workforce demographic by examining the association between a range of workplace risks and hazards with work ability scores.
PARTICIPANTS: 155 workers from five groups of outdoor workers in a large metropolitan council participated in the research. METHODS: Questionnaires were administered during staff meetings. The survey instrument included questions on demographic and employment characteristics, physical and psychosocial risk factors and the Work Ability Index.
RESULTS: Those with excellent or good work ability scores comprised 43% of workers each. Those categorized as having moderate work ability scores comprised 14% of workers. There were no workers with poor work ability scores. Associations with work ability scores were found for age, pain and discomfort, perceptions of health and safety at work, as well as a range of psychosocial and physical risk factors.
CONCLUSIONS: The results confirm a link between work ability and a range of physical and psychosocial risk factors, which if addressed, may improve the longevity of the workforce.