Selangor Journal
People are seen returning from work at Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur, on April 1, 2021. — Picture by BERNAMA

WHO study says long working hours increase heart disease, stroke deaths

MOSCOW, May 17 — A World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) study showed that long working hours were the cause of 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, Sputnik reported.

“WHO and ILO estimate that, in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week,” the study says.

According to the study, between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease caused by long working hours increased by 42 per cent and from stroke by 19 per cent. A total of 29 per cent increase was observed in the 16 years.

The disease was especially significant in men with 72 per cent of deaths and in people living in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions. Most of the recorded deaths were among people between 60-79 years of age.

“The number of people working long hours is increasing, and currently stands at nine per cent of the total population globally. This trend puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and early death,” the study adds.

Furthermore, the study estimated that people working over 55 hours a week see a 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has also affected the trends in increasing working hours.

“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work. In addition, many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll end up working longer hours,” WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The study has called for governments, employers and workers to take the following actions to protect workers’ health including the introduction of laws that can ban mandatory overtime and introduce limits on working time, agreements that may make working hours more flexible and strict monitoring of working hours to make sure they do not exceed 55 hours or more per week.

— Bernama

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