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Working overtime is hazardous to health

August 18, 2005

Long working hours could make people more susceptible to injury and illness, irrespective of the nature of the job, reveals a study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

US researchers analysed the responses of almost 11,000 Americans to the annual National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The survey included questions about employment history, work schedules and sick leave; it covered the period between 1987 and 2000.

Working 12 hours a day was associated with a 37 percent increased risk of injury or illness, while working 60 hours a week was associated with a 23 percent increased risk, compared with those who worked fewer hours. The level of risk increased with the number of hours one worked.

Lengthy commutes, however, had no impact on the injury/ illness rate.

The authors say their findings back the theory that long working hours indirectly precipitate workplace accidents by inducing fatigue and stress. The findings also support government initiatives, such as those espoused by the European Union, to cut working hours.


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