WHO reveals the unhealthy side effects of working overtime
Working too much can kill you, who would have thought? A recent study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has revealed that working more than 55 hours a week can pose a serious health risk.
The health risks of working overtime
A study examining the connection between loss of life and working hours found the number of deaths from heart disease due to overworking rose by 42 percent between 2000 and 2016, with the number of deaths from stroke also rising by 17 percent. Around the world, an estimated 398.000 people died from a stroke in 2016, and 347.000 from heart disease, as a result of working over 55 hours a week. The study concludes that, compared to a 35 to 40 hour week, working 55 hours or more increases the risk of stroke by 35 percent; similarly, the risk of dying from ischemic heart diseases increases by 17 percent.
"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," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus. The WHO has therefore called for a cap on working hours. "What we want to do with this information is promote more action, more protection of workers," said Maria Neira, director of the WHO's Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. WHO technical officer Frank Pega argued capping hours would also increase worker productivity. "It's really a smart choice not to increase long working hours in an economic crisis," he said. In the Netherlands, there are already legal limits to working hours.
Working hours in the Netherlands
The study also highlighted the effect of coronavirus on working hours. While regularly clocking overtime hours is not common in the Netherlands, the ongoing crisis has left many working from home and several national studies have found that many workers are now struggling to find a healthy work-life balance - something the Netherlands is normally quite good at.
With this in mind, the WHO has said that the pandemic “is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time.”
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