In a global analysis of the link between loss of life and health and working hours over a long period of time, the WHO and the International Labor Organization estimated that around 745,000 people died in 2016 as a result of working at least 55 hours a week.
Most of the deaths were recorded among people aged 60 to 79 years who had worked at least 55 hours between 45 and 74 years.
The men were hardest hit and accounted for 72% of the deaths, according to the analysis. People living in the western Pacific and Southeast Asia and middle-aged or older workers assumed 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 stroke and 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease – heart disease caused by a narrowing of the arteries – compared to those who worked 35- The study found 40 hours a week.
“Working 55 hours or more a week is a serious health hazard,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO’s Department for Environment, Climate Change and Health in a statement. “It is time that we all, governments, employers and employees, wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”
The WHO said there are two ways in which working long hours can cause death.
First, the psychological stress of working for many hours can generate a physiological response that triggers reactions in the cardiovascular system and lesions that cause a change in tissue.
The second is through unhealthy behaviors in response to stress, including smoking, alcohol, poor diet, physical inactivity and reduced sleep and poor recovery – all considered risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
The analysis looked at a period before March 11, 2020, when the WHO declared the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
But it said the coronavirus pandemic could put significant pressure on employees who have been forced to work from home.
Homework has led to a 2.5-hour increase in the average working day in these countries, NordVPN Teams said in its report published in February.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands stand out, with employees “working until 8pm and logging in regularly later than usual to end an extended working day,” it added.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many people work,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries and often blurs the boundaries between home and work. In addition, many companies have been forced to cut or close 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 have to work together to agree on boundaries to protect workers’ health,” he added.