Long working hours are killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, WHO says

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Long working hours are killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This is the first global study of its kind.  The study showed that 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours. The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.  The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the deaths were recorded among people aged 60 to 79, who had worked at least 55 hours between the ages of 45 and 74. Men were the worst affected, accounting for 72% of deaths, the analysis found.

People living in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, and middle-aged or older workers took on a particularly significant share of the disease burden, the report said. People who worked 55 or more hours a week had an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease — heart disease caused by a narrowing of the arteries — compared with those working 35-40 hours a week, the study found.

“Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health said in a statement. “It’s time that we all, governments, employers, and employees wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”

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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE JAPAN TIMES

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