The World Health Organisation has announced that working for over 55 hours a week can pose threat to peoples’ health, as overworking can lead to stroke and heart disease. The study found that long hours are actually killing hundreds of thousands of people every year!
Those working over 55 hours each week are at a 35% higher risk of a stroke and 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those who work 35-40 hours a week.
It also estimates that overwork has caused 745,000 deaths from stroke and heart disease in 2016, marking a significant 29% increase since 2000.
What links overworking and cardiovascular disease is unclear, though people who work long hours are likely to be more stressed, eat poorly, exercise less, and drink more alcohol.
Researchers also reviewed many studies on heart disease and stroke, alongside over 2,300 surveys on working conditions from 154 countries conducted from the 1970s, up until 2018.
Men have been especially affected by this, accounting for nearly 72% of work-related deaths. People who had worked for 55 hours or more per week between the ages of 45 and 74 tended to die between 60 and 79 years old.
Meanwhile, the ongoing pandemic could also accelerate this harmful trend, as teleworking becomes the norm among several industries.
Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, called overworking a ‘serious health hazard.’ She adds that ‘It’s time that we all, governments, employers, and employees wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death’.
In turn, WHO has suggested some ways government leaders and employers can protect workers’ health, including laws that establish limits on working overtime and collective bargaining agreements between managers and employees that increase flexibility and transparency around working hours.