WHO study says working a 55-hour week increases your risk of death by 35%


You might want to re-think your next Zoom meeting and take a walk after reading this. A World Health Organization study says working too much killed an estimated 745,000 people worldwide in 2016 alone — and the organization says remote work because of the pandemic will likely make matters worse.

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, according to the WHO.

Heart disease from overwork jumped 42% from the year 2000, while stroke from the same cause increased 19% according to the global study, conducted in association with the International Labour Organization and published Monday in the journal Environment International.

The study showed that a 55-hour workweek increased risk of death from stroke and ischemic heart disease by 35% — and that damage in many cases won’t appear in overworked employees for years. 

What’s more, studies from the Harvard Business School and elsewhere showed those who were lucky enough to keep their jobs during the pandemic are working longer than they were prior to it. The HBS study analyzed emails and meetings of 3.1 million people who started remote working during the pandemic, and found the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes.

“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work,” says WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “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.”

The WHO chief adds, “No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers and workers need to work together to agree on limits to protect the health of workers.”

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