Conti introduces ‘age-friendly’ factory programme
Germany, like many western nations, has an aging population. This creates challenges for employers wishing to retain their skilled workforce in operating environments that require physical strength and endurance. Continental AG is one such employer, and to tackle this situation it studied the workplaces of 25,000 of its employees within Germany with a view to adapting the jobs carried out to the varying needs of its staff. After completing this study Conti introduced what it calls the “workplace traffic light”, a system of identifying workplaces that are suitable for workers of any age (green), those in need of improvement (amber) and workplaces that are not age-diverse (red). One of these three colour designations has been given to each workplace following a profiling that includes the physical strain involved, concentration requirements, lighting conditions, noise, vibrations, draughts and temperatures. Continental reports that a total of 25 to 30 per cent of the industrial jobs at its sites within Germany are undergoing a redesign to enhance their suitability for older workers.
Such a project is timely when considering the number of production employees aged 55 to 65 at Continental sites throughout Germany is expected to triple to around 25 per cent by 2015. “In order for us to learn from experience for the future, we need a work environment that takes into account the needs and strengths of the employees in every phase of life. Younger employees stand to benefit from this just as much as the older ones do,” commented Dr. Peter Dolfen, head of corporate Health, Industrial Hygiene, Safety and Security (HISS) at Continental. “The next step on the agenda is to implement the workload documentation system throughout Europe and then worldwide.”