Could being overworked kill you?

Kiwis in these jobs are most at risk of working themselves to death

Could being overworked kill you?
Japan it was revealed that overwork cause the death of a 31-year-old journalist in 2013. Then again, the Japanese have a reputation for working hard.

New Zealand, on the other hand, prides itself in its work-life balance.  This is one of the factors that attract skilled migrants to relocate.

But the latest OECD Better Life Index says New Zealand had the ninth-highest percentage of workers working over 50 hours a week – 13.8%. This is higher than the United States, Australia and the UK.

Overworking is known to negatively affect health, safety and stress levels.

What kinds of workers are likely overworked in New Zealand? They are construction workers, midwives, truck drivers and paramedics, according to Stuff.

- A large NZ construction firm found that 40 percent of employees worked more than 50 hours a week. Nine site-based workers put in more than 60 hours a week.

Short-staffing is largely responsible for these workers’ long hour, Stuff said, even as WorkSafe has recommended that construction managers limit workers’ overtime, monitor their on-call duties and avoid giving incentives to work excessive hours. 

- Meanwhile, understaffing at maternity units across the country has been called an emergency situation by the New Zealand College of Midwives. One DHB midwife in Auckland, requesting anonymity, said she cried all during her drive home after working a 13-hour shift.

She has left her post at the hospital – where overwork was pretty much exclusively a staffing issue, she said -- and now works a more hospitable schedule at a community midwifery team.

- An average truck driver works between 60 and 70 hours a week, First Union transport, logistics and manufacturing secretary Jared Abbott said. 

"By law they can only work 70 cumulative hours before they have to take a 24-hour break ... and you can't drive more than 14 hours a day."

- Paramedics’ requirement to attend to critical incidents, they often work very long hours without a break, healthcare company Abbott said.

But these people should always be at the top of their game. "They're making life or death decisions for people and they really need to be alert."

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