Background: As the effects of demographic transition are realised around the world, many in-dustrial societies are facing the effects of a baby boom generation, increased life expectancies, decreased birth rates and recent changes to retirement legislation with the result that older work¬ers are set to comprise a greater proportion of the labour force.
Methods: This paper reviews the evidence for the physical and cognitive factors that characterise an ageing workforce in manufacturing. From an ergonomics and human factors (E/HF) pers¬pective, characteristics of manufacturing tasks and the effects of ageing provide an insight into how the industry will have to adapt to support the user needs of the older worker in the future. The approach taken is drawn from Ilmarinen’s framework of age, experience, and work performance, from which specific E/HF issues are explored.
Results: There would appear to potential to support physical decline in older workers within manufacturing jobs through increased mechanisation and automation; however, those factors associated with cognitive human factors are less clear. Increased mechanisation and automation can place greater loads and demands on the older worker where cognitive decline is more subtle and varied between workers.
Conclusion: Using historical and contemporary findings and the relationship between age, experience, and work performance is redrawn to include both cognitive skills and physical attributes to provide recommendations for future job design and worker needs.