On the roof at the age of 62: age-appropriate job work

In many industries, the physical stress is high. Under these conditions, only those who take good care of their health can maintain working capacity until retirement age. How employers can encourage this.

Author: Barbara Oberst

Randy Plöger (left, first-year intern) and Heinz Reuter work together on the roof. The strength of the younger and the experience of the elder complement each other. – © Paul Mueller

Heinz Reuter, 62, is a roofer and an important employee of his boss Patrick Gottlieb: “With us, the older ones are still ahead of the rest,” says master roofers from Hohenstein in Hessen. “I can use them anywhere, they know about everything that the younger ones are still learning.” It takes many years for an apprentice to acquire this knowledge. Older foremen are all the more valuable to the roofing business. At least for his team, Gottlieb cannot confirm that roofers have no chance of working in their profession until they retire – as is often said in retirement debates.

The biological age says little

How aging changes performance varies from person to person. Personal disposition, private lifestyle, but also lifetime workload have an effect. Biological age alone says little about working capacity. It is therefore all the more important that bosses take care of their health and that of their employees for as long as possible – also, and especially in physically demanding sectors, such as the roofing industry.

Health burden in the roofing industry

The health burdens in this industry are particularly high. Roofers suffer more often than colleagues from other construction industries Tension in the shoulder and neck area and lower back, as well as problems with the knees and arms. Overall, MSDs account for approximately 30 percent of diagnoses diagnosed by the industry’s occupational health service. But hearing impairments are also common.

Patrick Gottlieb counteracts this in a targeted manner: “Nobody has to climb ladders anymore with a load”, the 44-year-old refers to his scaffolding on staircases, on external elevators and on cranesto me. Of course, you still have to hand out the bricks on the roof and are still exposed to the weather.

Overall, however, his teams have designed their construction sites to minimize physical stress. It also means that they share the work reasonably. The older ones lead mainly the younger ones: “You pass on your wealth of experience to our young generation“says Gottlieb. Also plan and coordinate them a job on the spot. And you perform special tasks who are less money physically but where their experience gives them an advantage: “They don’t lay bricks all day, but they do detailed work like snow fences,” says Gottlieb, mentioning one possibility. This generation is calmer, admits the boss. But they are still the best performers in his company.

Teams of all ages do not consume younger ones

However, the redistribution of tasks between generations must not lead to younger workers getting only the hardest work and being tired. It’s for all ages on the team It is beneficial to take turns working during the dayn. Because hard work not only strains muscles and joints, but also one-sided stress and monotony.

This is despite the high physical demands The roofing trade is now a popular experience. The number of apprentices has increased dramatically since 2018 and Gottlieb has no problems finding young people as well. “We have a diverse job that is attractive to young people. But it is also an advantage for the elderly as our movements are very varied. ” The age range in his company ranges from 17 to 62 years old. Heinz Reuter will retire next year, but young people will follow suit. Gottlieb has two apprentices every year.

Mutual consideration between generations is a matter of course. It starts with the selection of music at the construction site: “Younger people listen to folk music all day long,” says Gottlieb, laughing. He is currently planning a new office building, which his team should also use: “There is a small fitness studio where they can strengthen their muscles.”

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