Perhaps you get the feeling that your boss wants to kill you because… (add depending on the current problem). But it is the actual work that is threatening your life. Even the work you pretend to do! In Japan about 10,000 people have already become victims to death apparently from overwork.
Death from overwork is not just a Japanese phenomenon, but is receiving great attention here. The Japanese also have a special name for it: karoshi. The Japanese Ministry of Health began keeping the first records of karoshi in 1987. Every year death from overwork is given as the cause of the extinguishment of hundreds of human lives.
Last year karoshi was recognised as the cause of the death of a 31-year-old news reporter who died literally with a phone at her ear. Or there was the suicide of a female employee of an advertising concern on the first day of Christmas. However according to the Japanese National Council for Victims of Karoshi the Ministry’s data is just the tip of the iceberg and karoshi could already be responsible for 10,000 deaths in Japan.
How much overtime is karoshi?
Cases are described as karoshi when the victim worked for more than 100 hours of overtime in the past month, or 80 hours of overtime in two or more consecutive months out of the past six months. The family of a victim is even entitled to compensation from the government and also from the company the victim worked for (a family even received over 1.68 million yen in the past).
And seeing as we are dealing with destructive overtime, according to the study of a Melbourne institute even a standard working week is harmful. People over 40 should apparently not work for more than 25 hours a week otherwise this has a harmful effect on their intelligence.
And pretending to work can also kill you
There are many cases of death from overwork and there are two common culprits: lack of sleep and stress. No one factor is a decisive “killer”, however they result in fatal damage to health in the form of heart diseases, disruption of immunity, diabetes or some types of cancer.
But equally dangerous is to sit behind a desk and wait until the boss finally goes home. After all you won’t leave before he does us? The Japanese are no longer a nation with the longest working hours, but it is particularly the young who feel it is not right to leave work before the boss. Long hours sitting behind a desk even if you are reading the sports column also does not benefit your health. This has been found by a study which showed that people spending more time at work are more prone to get a stroke.
Curious death when performing a job
Karoshi is a serious thing however a fatal mishap during a work shift could be unbelievable and also amusing. At least a bit. A bit of black humour.
- Clement Vallandigham, a 19th century US lawyer, accidentally shot himself dead while defending a murder suspect – because he was trying to demonstrate that a supposed victim could have accidentally shot himself dead. (It worked, because his client was acquitted.)
- Canadian lawyer Garry Hoy died while trying to prove that the glass in the windows of a 24th floor office was unbreakable, by throwing himself against it. It didn't break - but it did pop out of its frame and he plunged to his death.
- Monica Meyer, the mayor of Betterton, Maryland, died while checking her town's sewage tanks – she fell in and drowned in 15 feet of human waste.
- Robert Williams, a Ford assembly line worker, is the first human in history to have been killed by a robot. He was hit by a robot arm in 1979.
- Paul G. Thomas, the owner of a wool mill, fell into one of his machines in 1987 and died after being wrapped in 800 yards of wool.
- In 1900, American physician Jesse William Lazear tried to prove that Yellow Fever was transmitted by mosquitoes by letting infected mosquitoes bite him. He then died of the disease. Proving himself right.
- British actor Gareth Jones died of a heart attack while performing in a live televised play in 1958 – in which his character was scripted to have a heart attack. The rest of the cast improvised around his death and finished the play.
- Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a brilliant Swedish chemist who had an unwise habit of tasting all the chemicals he discovered. He died in 1786 as a result of his exposure to lead, hydrofluoric acid, arsenic and various other poisons.
- Queen Sunanda Kumariratana of Siam (now Thailand) drowned in 1880 in full view of many of her subjects – because they were forbidden to touch her, so couldn't rescue her.