Are stress and overwork more dangerous to health than accidents?
It has been claimed that stress and overwork are now more dangerous to health than workplace accidents, partly due to safer working environments and protective equipment.
According to María José Carmona, writing for Equal Times, workers that have two or three jobs in order to make a reasonable wage are at high risk of becoming sick or early mortality. In the European Union, safety regulations and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) have made workplaces safer than they have been for 30 years, but stress and fatigue related to long working hours have increased.
The International Labour Organisation says that 36% of the world’s employees work more than 48 hours a week, and these long hours put them at risk.
Carmona says that the main workplace risks are pressures to be more productive and long working hours that are “incompatible with life”. She calls these “invisible" accident risks.
Vehicle drivers and workers delivering goods by bicycle risk causing fatal accidents through being overtired. Nuria Soto from the labour union Riders x Derechos that represents cycle delivery drivers in Barcelona, Spain says:
“We receive photos of accidents every day. We drive for shifts of three, four, five hours at a time, the probability of having an accident is high and the company puts us under constant pressure to arrive on time. In addition, we don’t receive any training in risk prevention.”
Limiting working hours and allowing workers to work slower could help prevent illness and accidents due to stress.