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Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO

Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO

Long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, according to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization, published today in Enviro International.


In the first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO estimate that 398,000 people died from stroke in 2016 and 347,000 people died from heart disease as a result of working at least 55 hours. week. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and the number of deaths from stroke increased by 19%.


This work-related burden of disease is particularly significant in men (72% of deaths occurred in men), people living in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asian regions, and middle-aged or older workers. The majority of deaths recorded are among those aged 60-79 who have worked 55 hours or more per week between the ages of 45 and 74.


Working long hours is now known to be responsible for about one-third of the estimated work-related disease burden and has been identified as the risk factor with the largest occupational disease burden. This shifts thought to a relatively new and more psychosocial occupational risk factor for human health.


The study concludes that working 55 hours or more per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared to working 35-40 hours per week.


Moreover, the number of people working long hours is on the rise and now accounts for 9% of the total population globally. This trend puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and premature death.


The new analysis emerges as the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on managing working hours; The pandemic is accelerating developments that may feed the trend of increasing working hours.


WHO Director-General Dr. "The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way many people work," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Remote work has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the lines between home and work. Also, many businesses have had to downsize or shut down their operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll work longer. No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers and workers must work together to agree on limits to protect workers' health."


Director of the World Health Organization Environment, Climate Change and Health Department, Dr. "Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard," said Maria Neira. "It is time for all of us, governments, employers and workers to realize the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death".


Governments, employers and workers can take the following measures to protect the health of workers:

governments can enact, enforce and enforce laws, regulations and policies that prohibit mandatory overtime and provide maximum limits on working time;

Bilateral or collective bargaining agreements between employers and workers' associations can make working time more flexible while at the same time agreeing on maximum working hours;

Employees can share working hours to ensure that the number of hours worked does not increase by 55 or more per week.

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