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Long working hours are increasing deaths from heart disease: Report

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Long working hours are increasing deaths from heart disease: Report:


Context:

Report on long working hours and its impact were recently published by the WHO and International Labour Organization (ILO).

Key findings:

  • Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard.
  • Long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, a 29% increase since 2000.
  • The study concluded that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week.

Most vulnerable groups:

  • This work-related disease burden is particularly significant in men (72% 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 aged 60-79 years, who had worked for 55 hours or more per week between the ages of 45 and 74 years, said the agencies.

Concerns ahead:

Working long hours is now known to be responsible for about one-third of the total estimated work-related burden of disease and is established as the risk factor with the largest occupational disease burden.

  • This has shifted the thinking towards a relatively new and more psychosocial occupational risk factor to health.
  • Further, the number of people working long hours is increasing and is now 9% of the total population globally. This trend puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and early death.

Impact of Pandemic:

  • The pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time.
  • 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.

What needs to be done?

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.

  • Governments can introduce laws that ban mandatory overtime and ensure maximum limits on working time.

Sources: Livemint.