Can working long hours cause you physical or emotional harm? The simple answer is yes. According to a study released on Monday by the World Health Organization, working long hours is an extreme health risk. Categorized as an occupational health risk, the WHO study published in Environment International this week focused on people working 55 or more hours each week versus the generally accepted worldwide norm of 35 to 40 hours per week. According to the study, in just one year, working long hours contributed to the deaths of more than 745,000 workers, and, alarmingly, that number is expected to keep growing.
The World Health Organization considers this global study is the first of its kind, and it was completed in conjunction with the International Labour Organization. Based on data from 2000 to 2016, the authors assert that workers working 55 hours or longer have increased risks of dying from risk or heart disease. According to the report, they face a 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on businesses, governments, and workers themselves to protect their health better. In his words, “No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease.”
According to their statistics, in 2016, approximately 488 million people were exposed to these health risks due to working long hours. More than 745,000 people died from a stroke or heart disease related to working long hours of those workers. According to the WHO study, this represents a 42% increase in deaths from heart disease and a 19% increase in fatalities by a stroke from the year 2000. This conclusion did not surprise the authors as they noted that the risks have been rising for years as the gig worker economy and teleworking continue to grow.
Working Long Hours Can Kill You
Interestingly, the study did not include the years since the COVID-19 reshaped the working environment for millions of people. With the staggering number of lost jobs and teleworking becoming the norm for vast people, the boundaries between work and home have blurred. As companies continue to downsize and entire industries like travel and hospitality have workforces that are decimated, concerned workers still on the payroll but working from home are working longer hours to ensure their position with the company. Even more concerning is that there is a genuine possibility that they are not submitting the additional time worked to payroll out of fear of losing their job. This means the numbers reported in the study are likely to be higher than what was written.
In another alarming trend, the study found that middle-aged or older workers are often the most susceptible to the higher risks. Regionally, workers in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia had the highest exposure to the dangers, and workers in Europe had the lowest risk. Countries such as the US and Canada had less than 5% of their working population at risk, and the numbers were even lower for Mexico and many of the countries in South and Central America.
The study states that it is up to governments worldwide to help ease the burden on workers by either creating or enforcing proper labor standards. Employers need to be more flexible with scheduling and more open to job sharing two that workers do not feel pressured into working more than 55 hours a week to maintain their position. However, ultimately, both the employer and the worker need to share the responsibility of protecting their health in the long run.
Read more – Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise