Main image via NY Daily News + Lifehack
In a perfect world, having good work-life balance would be a reality for many.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and with the ongoing pandemic, we’ve all had to adjust our work-lifestyles with some finding themselves working longer and longer hours.
As we all know, overworking your body is not healthy and according to a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 745,000 people die every year from working long hours.
In the first global study of the loss of life associated with longer working hours, WHO found that 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016. This was an increase of 30% from 2000.
The paper in the journal of Environment International showed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend may accelerate further.
“Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health said.
“What we want to do with this information is promote more action, more protection of workers,” she added.
Produced by the WHO and the International Labour Organisation, the joint study showed that 72% of the victims were men and were middle-aged or older.
“Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the shifts worked,” Reuters reported.
The study also found that people who lived in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region – a WHO-defined region which includes China, Japan, and Australia – were the most affected by long working hours.
Drawing data from 194 countries, the study revealed that working 55 hours or more a week is associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared with a 35-40 hour working week.
The study however, only covered the period between 2000-2016 therefore; it did not include the change of working hours and the nature of the ongoing pandemic.
WHO officials did note however that the surge in remote working and the global economic slowdown from the pandemic may have increased the risks.
“The pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time,” WHO said, estimating that at least 9% of people have been working long hours.
The pandemic has certainly hit all industries with WHO staff, including its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, say they have been working long hours during this time.
Maria Neira shared that the U.N. agency would seek to improve its policy in light of the study.
WHO technical officer Frank Pega noted that capping hours would be beneficial for employers since that has been proven to increase worker productivity.
“It’s really a smart choice not to increase long working hours in an economic crisis,” he said.
It doesn’t matter how much you love your job, be sure that you are working reasonable hours because as shown, working long hours is shortening many lives.
Be sure to take care of yourself first!
Have you found yourself working longer hours recently? Let us know!
Info via Reuters