Friday, August 19, 2005

Long hours

The US economy has done reasonably well although the American worker hasn't. The explanation is the dramatic increase in "productivity," i.e., the amount of a worker's output. So businesses have done extremely well, producing more for less but not selling it for less. Some of this has been a result of more efficiency, but a distressing amount has been purely piling more on the backs of workers. Not just manufacturing workers, but workers of all kinds. We now work longer hours and longer workweeks and enjoy our diminishing time off less because we aren't in as good a shape as before. Because we work longer and harder.

Research done at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has now documented the obvious (via Edinburgh News). If you work a lot of overtime you are over 60% more likely to suffer work related injury or illness compared to those who don't. To come to this conclusion they examined over 100,000 work records and over 5000 work-related injuries and illnesses. Half or more of the injuries and illnesses were in jobs with extended hours or overtime. If you worked at least 12 hours a day you had a 37% increased risk, compared to those who worked fewer hours. Duh.

Twelve hours a day. To make ends meet. Like the candle burning at both ends.