Put simply, yes, although some studies have shown an inconclusive result, it is generally accepted that working longer hours is potentially more hazardous to you and your colleagues. Many occupations work different lengths of hours depending on what is required by their employer. Some may work a steady 9-5 Monday to Friday job, but for some the daily grind begins at breakfast and ends at bedtime. Working longer hours can impair your health in various ways and place you at the risk of a workplace accident so it is of the utmost importance to strike a healthy work/life balance.
How can I be injured by working longer hours?
Working longer hours can result in fatigue of the mind and body. If you need to be at your best for your work, then working longer hours can cause you or your colleagues to have an accident. Studies have associated being overworked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, stress, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic infections and diabetes. A study conducted in Germany found that after 11.5 hours of work, the productivity and quality of work of an employee diminish severely. It is important to observe adequate rest periods between shifts of a long period.
Are there any legal frameworks in place to prevent this?
As a member of the EU, the United Kingdom is obliged to implement all directive and regulations passed by the EU. Over the last 2 decades, reducing accidents in the workplace and improving workplace conditions has been a massive focus of the EU. In 2003 the government implemented the Protection of the safety and health of workers -Directives 93/104/EC and 2003/88/EC. This regulation limits the maximum weekly working time to 48 hours per week. However, your employer may ask you to sign a voluntary opt-out clause in which you agree to work more than the 48 hour maximum per week, however, your employer must have your expressed consent in order to do this.
I’ve suffered problems due to working long hours, am I entitled to compensation?
If you’ve been working more than the maximum allowed hours and as a result have suffered any symptoms or any injuries that are related to this, within the last 3 years, then you may be entitled to claim industrial injury compensation. Contact Accident Advice Helpline today on their freephone helpline – 0800 689 0500 – for more information.
Date Published: January 3, 2014
Author: David Brown