Overwork extracts a high price

Updated: 2012-11-28 09:47

By Cesar Chelala (China Daily)

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The results of the WHS have been confirmed both in Denmark and in China. A comprehensive 15-year study in Denmark found that the greater the work pressure, the higher the risk of heart disease among women aged 51 and under. In Beijing, a study among white-collar workers found that job-related stress was associated in women with an increased thickness of the wall of the carotid artery, an early predictor of stroke.

Deaths by overwork affect not only the families that may lose the main breadwinner, but also the industries that will increasingly be affected by more lawsuits and lost productivity. The situation, in turn, will also affect the national economy. Therefore it is imperative to devise a series of steps aimed at curbing this problem.

It is important for workers to get regular exercise, which will reduce anxiety and depression and improve sleep. In addition, it is important for them to develop supportive relationships with friends, families and co-workers. Whenever possible, they should practice relaxation techniques and, if they feel overwhelmed by their personal situation, they should seek help from a health professional.

Companies should provide their workers with the best conditions for their work, a policy that will be of better economic value in the long run. Management should realize that it is counterproductive for them to place excessive demands on their workers.

Legislation should be passed increasing job security and skills training, as well as employees' participation in issues that directly concern them such as transfers and promotions. Workers should have better control of their own jobs, which will increase productivity and reduce stress. In the long run, prevention is the best way to address this very serious problem.

The author is an international public health consultant and a winner of Overseas Press Club of America Award.

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