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Can working too much make people sick?

by | May 21, 2021 | Employment Law, Workers' Compensation

When people think about work-related illnesses, they might think about getting the flu from co-workers or suffering toxic exposure to harmful substances.

However, a recent report from the World Health Organization notes that work itself could also be making some people sick.

The dangers of overworking

The WHO found in a global study that there are serious health consequences for people who work more than 55 hours a week.

More specifically, overworking has reportedly contributed to a 35 percent higher risk of someone suffering a stroke. And the risk of heart disease increases by 17 percent. In one year alone, these illnesses led to more than 745,000 deaths among people working long hours worldwide.

How big of a problem is this?

Unfortunately, people across Detroit work far more hours than they would like to. And spending more than 40 hours on the job in a week may be the only way people can make ends meet. 

Further, over the past year, it has become especially difficult for people to reduce their hours due to employer demands and telecommuting expectations stemming from the pandemic. 

Because of this, every person who is putting in excessive hours can be putting their health in danger. Unfortunately, the decision not to work more than 55 hours is not always in the employee’s hands.

Protecting workers

Employers have the opportunity to keep workers safer from the dangers of illnesses like stroke and heart disease in various ways. They can be more flexible in terms of work scheduling and enforce policies on the maximum number of hours a person works in a week. They can also provide resources to promote healthy decisions and support employees.

It can also be crucial for employers to fairly and lawfully pay employees, which could reduce their need to work excessive hours. Too often, employers do not compensate employees for all hours worked; in some cases, they do not pay overtime wages, either. 

Because of the medical and financial implications of overworking, employees should know what rights they have regarding a safe work environment and wage protection. If you are worried about workplace violations that threaten your health or your rights, legal action can be necessary.