Overtime (or OT-overtime) has long become a familiar term for workers, not only in factories, export processing factories but also office workers. Attractive salary, usually 1.5 to 3 times, has attracted workers to try to work overtime every day, even on holidays to increase their income.
While the provisions of the Labor Law limit the number of overtime hours to 40 hours/month and 200 hours/year, the reality shows that some workers are working overtime to more than 3 hours a day, equivalent to 100 hours. /month and 1,000 hours/year depending on the workload.
However, a new study from the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that this level of work can increase the risk of premature death from stroke or ischemic heart disease. In fact, every year around the world, about 745,000 people die from overwork.
A WHO study said that just working more than 55 hours a week, equivalent to 8 hours of work a day and working both days off a week, the risk of dying from stroke and myocardial ischemia of workers. Working hours have increased by 35% and 17% respectively compared to the working mode of 35-40 hours/week.
Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health said: “Working more than 55 hours a week is a serious health hazard. It’s time for all of us, governments, employers and workers to wake up to the fact that extended working hours can lead to premature death.“.
The world is working harder than ever
To come up with the new recommendation, WHO, along with the International Labor Organization (ILO), has conducted dozens of studies investigating ischemic heart disease and stroke. In it, they looked at data collected from 194 different countries around the world.
Although the statistics do not show a clear cause-and-effect link, they do provide “sufficient evidence for harm” of a 55 hour/week working regime, based on WHO criteria.
The data show that the burden of illness and death from work particularly affects people living in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region. Men are affected more than women.
In 2016, about 8.9% of the global population worked an average of 55 hours a week or more. The number equates to about 488 million people.
It’s worth noting that the data was only collected until 2016. Scientists fear the situation could get even worse since then. Before the pandemic, economic growth and global supply chain trends may have prompted many regions, especially countries known as the world’s factories, to work harder.
In the trend of working from home due to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many of us must also “work” more hours, even though we’re at home. It’s the result of blurring the lines between “work” and housework.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way many people work. Remote working has become the norm in many industries. But it often blurs the line between home as a place to live and a place to work.
In addition, many businesses have been forced to downsize or close their operations to save costs. This causes those who are still on the payroll to end up working longer hours to offset the workload of employees who have been laid off.”
It’s time we wake up
Overwork and overtime leading to poor health is not a new and surprising finding. However, this research by WHO and ILO has been carried out on an unprecedented scale.
Data collected around the world takes the conclusions to a whole different level. A total of 398,000 deaths from stroke and 347,000 deaths from heart disease were counted among workers who worked more than 55 hours a week.
The numbers are up 19% and 42% respectively from 2000.”Working long hours is now considered to be responsible for about a third of the total burden of work-related illness. It is considered the risk factor for the greatest burden of occupational disease“, said WHO.
Causes may come from physiological stress responses and changes in behavior after prolonged work hours. For instance, it can cause you to have an unhealthy diet, not getting enough sleep and poor quality sleep, reduced mobility, not having time for exercise and being physically active in general.
According to a WHO study, working just over 55 hours a week increases the risk of dying from stroke and ischemic heart disease by 35% and 17%, respectively, compared with the 35-40 working regime. hours/week – equivalent to working less than 8 hours/day with 2 days off per week.
So, the most obvious fix now is if you find yourself working too much, reduce your working hours if you want to protect your health. You can spend more time resting if you work physically, more time active if you work in an office. Don’t forget to spend time with your family, your hobbies, and take care of your mental health.
With that in mind, WHO is encouraging governments and employers to heed the warnings in this study. They should establish rules about time limits and flexible working hours, and allow sharing of work among workers.
“No job is worth the risk of having a stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers and workers need to work together to agree working hours limits to protect health.“, said WHO Director-General Tedros.
New WHO research has been published in the journal Environment International.
Refer Sciencealert, WHO
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