Office building in Germany (symbol picture)
Photo: Roland Holschneider / picture alliance / dpa
In many companies, extra work is a good thing.
But as harmless as one or the other overtime may seem, according to a UN study, long working hours represent a considerable health risk - and cost hundreds of thousands of lives every year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization estimate that around 398,000 people worldwide died of strokes and around 347,000 of coronary heart disease in 2016 because they worked 55 hours a week or more.
The UN authorities in Geneva published global estimates of the problem for the first time on Monday.
No other health risk in the workplace leads to the loss of so many healthy years of life as overwork.
According to the study, fatal work-related heart diseases and strokes increased sharply between 2000 and 2016.
The corona crisis could exacerbate this development, warned WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: In the home office, work and leisure often become blurred.
Job cuts increased the burden on the remaining employees.
In many places 35 to 40 hours per week are considered the norm, but particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, relatively large parts of the population work much more.
According to the current analysis, the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases sharply after 55 hours.
In 2019, the WHO also clearly defined burnout as a syndrome related to stress at work.
In medicine, a syndrome is a combination of several symptoms that can probably be traced back to the same cause.
Burn-out is also related to the workplace
The WHO describes burnout as a syndrome due to "chronic stress in the workplace that is not successfully processed".
According to ICD-11, the syndrome has three dimensions:
a feeling of exhaustion,
an increasing intellectual distance or negative attitude towards one's own job and
decreased professional performance.
In addition, the WHO points out that the term burnout should only be used in a professional context and not “for experiences in other areas of life”.
jok / dpa