Loss of senses a big factor: Doctor

Hopeton Durrant remembers July 4, 1994, as the worst day of his life.


Durrant, then 54, had just started his afternoon shift as a die press operator at the Inglis factory in Cambridge, Ont., a job he held for seven years.


Assigned to cleanup duty that day, he walked around the massive machine, which makes washers and dryers, to make sure it was safe to operate.


Durrant dropped his protective gloves, so he put his left hand on a guide post to steady himself as he bent down to pick them up.


That’s when he felt pressure bearing down on his hand. A co-worker had activated the 550-tonne press. It crushed Durrant’s hand and cut a hole more than six centimetres in diameter through his palm.

He endured 16 hours of surgery to repair his hand. More than 12 years later, he still wears a ski glove year-round because his mangled hand is constantly cold and in pain.

A study by the Centre for Study of Living Standards in Ottawa released last month found that older workers are more likely to die in workplace accidents than their young co-workers.

The study, which analyzed data from provincial workers’ compensation boards, found the fatality rate went up with age and was 10 times higher for workers in their 60s than workers in their teens.

Dr. Cameron Mustard, president of the Institute for Work and Health, says that as people age, senses like eyesight, hearing, balance, reflexes and mobility begin to deteriorate. Also, with longer hours and more unconventional shifts, fatigue could also be a factor.

ages & fatalities/100,000

  • 15-19 1.6

  • 20-24 2.3

  • 25-29 2.9

  • 30-34 2.9

  • 35-39 2.4

  • 40-44 3.4

  • 45-49 2.6

  • 50-54 2.5

  • 55-59 4.4

  • 60-64 5.1

  • 65+ 9.1