Death from overwork

For anyone worried that they don’t have work/life balance, read on…

In Japan, the phrase ‘karōshi’ literally means “death from overwork”.  According to Wikipedia, the first case of karōshi was reported in 1969 with the death by stroke of a 29-year-old male worker from the shipping department of Japan’s largest newspaper company.   But it was not until the late1980s, when several high-ranking business executives in their prime suddenly died without any previous sign of illness, that the media began picking up on what appeared to be a new phenomenon.

In 1987, as public concern increased, the Japanese Ministry of Labour began to publish statistics on karōshi. 

In 2007, 147 workers died, many from strokes or heart attacks, and about 208 more fell severely ill from overwork in the year to March, the highest figure on record and 7.6 percent up from the previous year.

Another 819 workers contended they became mentally ill due to overwork, with 205 cases given compensation. Mentally troubled workers killed themselves or attempted to do so in 176 cases.

The Japanese government has begun to recognise the extent of responsibility that companies bear in overworking employees. On 29 April this year, the a company was ordered to pay 200 million yen (or just over $3m AUD) to a man overworked into a coma.

Makes working life in Australia seem positively laid back in comparison!


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