October 4 2022 12:45 PM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

Long working hours increase chance of death — UN

Man Sitting At His Desk Working On Computer
(Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — Long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016 — a 29 per cent increase since 2000 — according to UN report published on Monday.اضافة اعلان

The report by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) was published in Environment International, and according to a WHO statement, was the first global analysis to measure loss of life and health associated with working long hours. 

The health organization and the ILO estimate that, in 2016, some 398,000 people died from stroke and around 347,000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42 percent, and from stroke by 19 percent.

The report added that work-related diseases significantly affected men more than women (72 percent of deaths occurred among males), people living in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions, and middle-aged or older workers. Most of the deaths recorded were among people dying aged 60 to 79 years, who had worked for 55 hours or more per week between the ages of 45 and 74 years old.

The study concluded that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of a stroke and a 17 percent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week.

“Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health, said in the statement. “It’s time that we all, governments, employers, and employees wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”

The report added that the number of people working long hours is increasing, and currently stands at 9 percent of the total population globally.  This trend puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and early death, the statement said.

The new analysis comes as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on managing working hours; the pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work. In addition, many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll end up working longer hours.” 

He added that “no job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers, and workers need to work together to agree on limits to protect the health of workers.”

The statement urged governments, employers, and workers to take action to combat long working hours.

Read more Business stories.