Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, says World Health Organization

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says more people work late than usual and that the deteriorating trend has claimed hundreds of lives over the years. The organization also said that the corona virus pandemic could encourage this trend.

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In the first global study of long-term work-related damage to life, a paper in the International Journal of Environment showed that overtime-related strokes and heart disease in 2016 killed 745,000 people. By 2000, that number had risen to about 30%.

Working 55 hours or more per week can lead to serious health problems, said Maria Nira, director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. Research has shown that it is important to pay attention to worker’s health safety.

A joint study by the WHO and the International Labor Organization found that the majority of victims (72%) were men and were middle-aged or older.

Research has shown that shift workers die much later in life, and sometimes even decades later, than long-term workers.

According to the report, people living in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region were most affected, including countries such as China, Japan and Australia.

This research is based on figures from 194 countries. Working 55 hours or more a week has a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from Ischemia heart disease compared to 35-40 hours.

The research covers the period 2000-2016 and therefore does not include the COVID-19 pandemic. But union officials say the COVID-19 emergency has exacerbated the risk of a global economic downturn. An epidemic can encourage this tendency. WHO staff, including Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have acknowledged this.

Frank Pega, WHO’s technology officer, said capping would be beneficial for companies, as it could increase worker productivity.

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