Long working hours killing 745,000 people per year, study finds.
We all know how important maintaining a healthy work-life balance is. There has been much discussion on the subject in recent times with an increasing number of employees now reporting that they are working longer hours at home than they were in the office. Everyone knows how important it is to switch off from work however, for many, this is easier said than done. Some feel the need to “prove” to their bosses that they are working effectively from home, and others work through what would have been their “commuting time”. Moreover, as many organisations have been hit financially and forced to reduce their workforce, the workload for those remaining may have increased.
But working a few extra hours a night can’t do much harm, right? A study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) would suggest otherwise.
The study found long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from strokes and ischemic heart disease in 2016. The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO) was the first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours. The WHO and ILO estimate that, in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease due to having worked at least 55 hours per week.
Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and from stroke by 19%. Further research into the risks uncovered 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 heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.
The study also showed almost three-quarters of those who died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men. Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.
The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population. This trend is expected to grow due to the rise in homeworking as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic worked an average six hours of unpaid overtime per week. People who do not work from home have worked an average of 3.6 hours per week overtime, the ONS said.
How can AssessNET help you to discharge your statutory responsibilities effectively and to support your people by monitoring and reducing the risks related to working from home?
AssessNET covers a broad range of health and safety processes and the following modules can help you to monitor and manage home-worker and lone-worker risks, meaning that you are able to put effective action plans in place.
The AssessNET Safe2Day Covid Monitoring tool allows you to keep track of the physical and mental health status of your employees. It also includes vaccination recording track and trace functionality.
The AssessNET Risk Assessment module can be used to create specific assessments for employees working long hours, allowing you to identify the risks and carry out remedial actions.
The AssessNET DSE module can help you take care of remote workers by ensuring they have the correct workstation set up, both in their home and office environments.