In the fast-paced world as today’s, working for long hours has become a significant part of the lifestyle of a lot of people without realising that it can cost them their health. It is evident that working hard is necessary to acquire a decent place in this world but it is equally important to ensure that it doesn’t harm our health in any way.
According to a report by the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization, working for long hours is a serious health hazard and has led to several deaths over the years. The report says that in 2016, long working hours led to 7,45,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease, a 29 per cent increase since 2000.
WHO & ILO did a global analysis of loss of life and health associated with long working hours and the estimates say that in 2016, 3,98,000 people died from stroke and 3,47,000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week.
According to Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, at the World Health Organization, “Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” She further added, “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 study also showed that mostly men, especially middle-aged or older were victims of this work-related disease burden constituting 72 per cent of the deaths. It also said that the people living in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions were most affected.
The study also reflects that working for 55 hours or more a week is associated with an estimated 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.
Throwing light on how the pandemic has affected the working patterns of people, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work. 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. 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.”