A recent study found people who regularly work long hours had a higher risk of stroke, especially those who’ve done so for 10 years or more.
This research, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, analyzed data on the working hours of more than 140,000 people in France.
The researchers defined long work hours as working more than 10 hours for at least 50 days a year. They found the 42,000 participants who reported working long hours had a 29 per cent greater risk of stroke. The risk increased to 45 per cent for the more than 14,000 who reported working long hours for 10 years or more.
A total of 1,224 of the study participants suffered strokes.
“The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50,” said study author Alexis Descatha, M.D., Ph.D., researcher at Paris Hospital, Versailles and Angers University and at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. “This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.”
This study supports other evidence linking long work hours to significant health impacts including a study by British researchers published in the journal Lancet in 2015 showing those working 55 hours or more per week had a 33 per cent higher risk of stroke than those working a 35-40 hour workweek. Further research found excess risk for diabetes in women working long hours. Evidence also links long work hours to excess injury rates along with stress and related mental injuries.
The IAMAW is aware of members working excessive hours, and we have addressed the issue with the Federal Government of Canada. We are also aware that fatigue is a form of impairment and we support studies that link fatigue to occupational disease.
Psychosocial hazards and stress
This hypothesis supports previous research suggesting work stressors including low job control are contributing factors for stroke and heart disease.
Researchers from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University published a scientific review of more than 200 studies and found work stressors including long work hours and lack of job control increased the chance of early death in exposed workers by 20 per cent.
Prevention through workplace intervention
These same researchers note many employers continue to focus almost exclusively on behavioural lifestyle and health choices as a means of coping with stress. Little attention, they say, is paid to prevention through identifying and eliminating workplace causes of stress such as long work hours and lack of job control.
Employers will also want to consider working long hours on a regular basis for many workers will become counterproductive and detrimental to work outcomes. This includes the growing issue of constant connection to work through email, texting and other forms of communication.
With almost 1.4 million Canadians having worked more than 50 hours a week, on average, last year (2018) many workplaces will want to revisit workplace policies for hours of work.
The IAMAW will ensure that employers have in place appropriate policies, and that the government develops adequate legislative protections through our continued advocacy.
Courtesy of the Workers Health and Safety Centre dated July 31, 2019
For Further Information please visit: www.whsc.on.ca