Long working hours are a killer, WHO study shows – Reuters

REUTERS/Eddie KeoghWorking long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year in a getting worse trend that may accelerate even more due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization stated on Monday.In the first international research study of the loss of life associated with longer working hours, the paper in the journal Environment International showed that 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016. Typically, the deaths took place much later in life, often years later, than the shifts worked.It also revealed that individuals living in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region– a WHO-defined region which consists of China, Japan and Australia– were the most affected.Overall, the research study – drawing on data from 194 nations – stated that working 55 hours or more a week is associated with a 35% greater danger of stroke and a 17% greater danger of passing away from ischemic heart illness compared with a 35-40 hour working week.The study covered the period 2000-2016, and so did not consist of the COVID-19 pandemic, but WHO authorities said the surge in remote working and the international financial downturn resulting from the coronavirus emergency situation might have increased the threats.”The pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the pattern towards increased working time,” the WHO said, approximating that at least 9% of individuals work long hours.WHO personnel, including its primary Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, say they have been working long hours throughout the pandemic and Neira said the U.N. agency would seek to improve its policy in light of the study.Capping hours would be helpful for companies since that has been shown to increase employee productivity, WHO technical officer Frank Pega stated.

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