Deaths due to long work hours prevalent in South-East Asia: WHO
Employees living in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific region — defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a region which includes China, Japan and Australia — were the most affected by deaths caused by working long hours.
The study, produced jointly by WHO and the International Labour Organisation, showed that most victims were men (72%), middle-aged or older. It collected data from 194 countries, covering the period 2000 to 2016.
In 2016, the largest number of deaths by stroke attributable to working long hours was estimated in South-East Asia, at 159,000 deaths. And in relative terms, South-East Asia had the highest death rate at 11.3 deaths/100,000 population.
Between 2000 and 2016, South-East Asia and Africa saw the greatest increase in the number of deaths out of all regions, while Europe had the greatest relative decrease.
Working 55 or more hours per week is linked to an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week, according to the study.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work,“ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“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.”