Long working hours 'claimed 750,000 lives in one year'

·2-min read

A new study has revealed 745,000 people died in a year because of long working hours.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of the dangers of being overworked and the implications it has on health, as many people complain they have been working harder than ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.

In the first global study of its kind, experts discovered that 745,000 people died in 2016 as a result of strokes or heart disease due to long hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), highlighted that working for 55 hours or more a week was linked to a 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and a 17 per cent greater risk of dying from heart disease. This is compared to the risk for those who spend 35 to 40 hours working each week.

It was also revealed that almost 75 per cent of those who died due to long working hours were middle-aged or older men.

People living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were found to be the most likely to suffer from ill health due to their job.

The study did not cover working hours during the pandemic, but WHO officials believe the change in working conditions – with many of us setting up offices at home due to lockdown – will influence the health of many other people.

"We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10 per cent," said WHO technical officer Frank Pega.

The report also showed that working longer hours was responsible for approximately one-third of work-related diseases, highlighting it as the largest occupational disease issue.

Pega has called for a cap on work hours during the pandemic to ensure health and productivity are protected.

"It's really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis," he added.

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