Health risks in long hours

The Advertiser - Careers - - Work/life Balance -

ONE in four work­ers miss out on sleep and more than half ex­pe­ri­ence ad­verse ef­fects on their health and life­style be­cause of their work­ing hours.

New re­search from The Aus­tralia In­sti­tute, re­leased ahead of Go Home On Time Day on Novem­ber 21, shows peo­ple who work more than 30 hours a week are more than twice as likely as the rest of the work­force to ex­pe­ri­ence neg­a­tive ef­fects on their life­style such as loss of sleep, stress and anx­i­ety, bad moods, poor men­tal well­be­ing and an in­abil­ity to en­joy daily ac­tiv­i­ties.

Its pa­per, An un­healthy ob­ses­sion? The im­pact of work hours and work­place cul­ture on Aus­tralia’s health, finds 2.9 mil­lion work­ers miss out on sleep and 3.2 mil­lion peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence stress and anx­i­ety be­cause of work con­di­tions.

It re­veals 58 per cent of work­ers ex­pe­ri­ence at least one neg­a­tive ef­fect.

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Richard Den­niss says em­ploy­ers must un­der­stand stress and men­tal health is­sues are oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety risks.

In­di­vid­u­als also have to be more aware and take more re­spon­si­bil­ity in talk­ing to their man­ager and col­leagues about health is­sues, he says.

‘‘ There are a lot of re- sources in how em­ploy­ers can help their em­ploy­ees with men­tal health is­sues and preven­tion is al­ways bet­ter than cure,’’ Den­niss says.

He says in­creased flex­i­bil­ity has blurred the line be­tween home and work and work­ers find it hard to even know their ‘‘ knock-off’’ time.

Be­yond­blue chief ex­ec­u­tive Kate Car­nell says the sta­tis­tics were con­cern­ing.

‘‘ Phys­i­cal safety in the work­place has been greatly im­proved . . . now we need em­ploy­ers to recog­nise that men­tal well­be­ing is just as im­por­tant,’’ Car­nell says.

Work­ers need to talk to bosses and col­leagues about health is­sues.

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