The World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation have estimated that exposure to long working hours of more than or equal to 55 hours per week is a prevalent occupational risk factor, and is attributable to a large number of deaths due to heart disease and stroke, Punch Newspaper reports.
This was disclosed in a global study jointly released by Environmental International on Monday.
It added that the hours of work convention had provided that the working hours of employed persons should not exceed eight hours per day and 48 hours per week. However, the definition of the long working hours depends on national regulations, it said.
The study shows that over 745,000 people died from a stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000.
The study said working 55 hours or more hours per week was associated with an estimated 35 per cent higher risk of a stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week.
The joint study also showed that most victims (72 per cent) were men and were middle-aged or older.
Speaking on the study, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO, Dr Maria Neira, said, “Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard.
“It’s time that we all, governments, employers, and employees wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”
The report covered 2000- 2016 and did not include the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly changed the way many people worked.
He stated, “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.
“No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease.”
According to him, governments, employers and workers need to work together to agree on limits to protect the health of workers.