Overwork Killing Staff, Employers Told How to Prevent This

Constant long working hours, changes in the content and quantity of work, and harassment, are all contributing to “death from overwork”, an alarming study has found.

These psychosocial factors were the main causes of 238 cases of occupational mental disorders and suicides, in Japan’s information technology industry, analysed by a team from Tokai University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.

According to the Tokai researchers, the IT sector belongs to a group of industries in Japan where death from overwork, known as “karoshi” in Japanese, occurs frequently. (The others include construction, education, food services, healthcare, media and transportation.)

They say their analysis of workers’ mental disorders can help workplace stakeholders “understand working patterns that anticipate the future working styles of workers, ultimately contributing to the prevention of death by overwork”.

Previous studies, they note, show IT workers often work in harsh working environments with strict deadlines, demanding customer service requirements and sudden changes in job specifications.

The new findings indicate how critical it is to take action to reduce and strictly manage working hours, they say