Long hours culture bad for your heath

Working long hours can greatly increase the risk of suffering injury or illness, a new study by the University of Massachusetts reveals.

Working long hours can greatly increase the risk of suffering injury or illness, a new study by the University of Massachusetts reveals.

Staff who work overtime were 61% more likely to become hurt or ill, once factors such as age and gender were taken into account. Working more than 12 hours a day raised the risk by more than a third, the University of Massachusetts found.

In the UK, 14% of the working population, some 3.6 million people, work more than 48 hours a week, and IT personnel fall into this category by and large. The study found that a 60-hour week carried a 23% greater risk, the study of US records from 110,236 employment periods found.

The study looked at data from 1987 to 2000. An employment period relates to the time a person spends at one firm. Counting this way meant some individuals might have been covered by the research more than once.

Report co-author Allard Dembe comments that risk was not necessarily associated with how hazardous the job was. "The results of this study suggest that jobs with long working hours are not more risky merely because they are concentrated in inherently hazardous industries or occupations," he said.

He added that the findings, published in the Occupational and Environmental Health journal, supported initiatives such as the 48-hour European Working Time Directive to cut the number of working hours.

Paul Sellers, a policy adviser at the TUC, said the findings were unsurprising. "In the UK, the situation is gradually getting better, but employers need to realise it is in their interests not to push people into working long hours," he said.

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