Is working overtime hazardous to your health?

The Los Angeles Times posted a blog about an interesting European study which suggests working extra hours on the job can be detrimental to one’s health. Specifically, the damage in working overtime seemed to center around the health of the heart. One of the more sobering statistics that the report provides is that for people who worked at least three hours beyond the normal work day, they had on average a 60% higher rate of angina, nonfatal heart attacks and death from heart-related conditions. You can read the entire study (PDF) in the European Heart Journal.

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

The study focused on London office workers, but considering the reputation that Americans have for working long hours, we can assume to be carrying the same health risks every time we burn the midnight oil. The study even concludes that America is well above average when it comes to employees working overtime.

The Los Angeles Times does make an intriguing point, as the study found that the people who were most likely to work overtime were Type A personalities, who are more prone to heart ailments, setting up a chicken-egg argument. Is overtime work, and the consequences involved in working additional hours the cause of the heart issues, or is the overtime worker’s personality and lifestyle causing the heart problems?

Have you suffered health issues because of working overtime? If you thought working extra hours on the job could lead to health issues, would you stop or do you consider it to be an essential activity in the current economic climate?

13 comments Add your comment


May 12th, 2010
11:44 am

Americans have not learned how to take time off seriously-they just keep working. Europeans have considerably more vacation time-take it seriously-and are less materialistic. We complain about illness and health care costs but both employer and employee should realize that overdoing it is precipitating the problem. It is a proven fact that employees perform better and faster if they are on a reduced week, take regular breaks and vacations. When all is said and done, health before money results in a better payoff for both parties.


May 12th, 2010
11:49 am

No overtime for me! Life is too short and I enjoy my life outside the office. When I do have to work OT I can feel a difference in my energy levels the next day. I usually require a day off or good night sleep to recuperate. I am lucky to be a hourly employee instead of salary, they don’t want to pay overtime!

Bob Chapek

May 12th, 2010
12:48 pm

Companies (executives)require that you work a minimum of 50 hours at your job, especially if you are a salaried employee. You are expected to get more done with less help. Work until the jobs are done, which never seems to have an end. You are never expected to get sick and take off time to recouperate. And when you put in for vacation (for a week at a time),the company does not take a good view on this. They would like you to take one or two days at a time spead thoughout the year. This is a sound of the times!! Either do what they expect from you or get out. Not a good trend for the US salaried worker.


May 12th, 2010
3:12 pm

@Bob. Right you are. And with digital cell phones and aircards the company gets to pay a few hundred bucks a month for the pleasure of keeping you connected all the time. I used to work in the office from around 8-9am until 6-7pm M-F. Now that I am a single mom, I have no choice but to leave by 5pm and then my fingers are busy with e-mails on the cell and by 9pm I am back on the laptop and actually working until around midnight-1am. In order to get the accrual off the books my company has mandatory vacation days…the problem is that real-life steps in and there is always something happening so the best I can get in return for them charging me a vacation day is that I get to put in my 8-10 hours that day from home. Vacation, to me, is just somewhere new to set up my laptop. When I make hotel reservations I ask about wireless, not views.


May 12th, 2010
3:20 pm

Now that I am 50, I take my time off seriously. I take care of me! Not my employer!


May 12th, 2010
3:27 pm

Work more overtime. Millions on welfare are depending on you…

C from Marietta

May 12th, 2010
4:41 pm

It’s all about taking care of yourself and getting exercise. I work an average of 50hrs a week. I have work ethic.

C from Marietta

May 12th, 2010
4:44 pm

We all know what this is leading too. The socialist among us don’t want to work the extra to get extra. So, they force us that are willing to work extra stop. I would like to see the other factors in the studying. Instead of just a one page article saying what the study says.


May 13th, 2010
5:51 am

I used to work a lot of overtime, but now very minimum. I sat down with a pen and paper, and looked at ways to cut back. I found over $1000, that I was wasting per month. I feel a lot better that I don’t
have to rely on working so hard anymore.


May 13th, 2010
11:04 am

I used to work a TON of overtime in my previous job. I traveled all the time and worked at least 12 hours a day for weeks-on-end. On one occasion, I was out of town for an entire month and never got to come home — even on weekends. At some point I had to face the fact that I was cheating my husband and kids by never being around to spend time with them. I quit that job and took some time off. Now, I am working again, but I have found a job that does not require as many hours. While my schedule is still crazy at times, it is much more managable. I am so thankful that I changed jobs — there is so much more to life that work. I am healthier and happier today because I do not have to work as many hours.

State Employee

June 30th, 2010
4:13 pm

I have worked for the STate for 20 years, and learned early that I was expected to work many extra hours until the work was finished, usually with no extra pay, if I wanted to keep my job and get good performance reviews. Now that we are computerized in every aspect of life, it just means more work to me, but I keep telling myself to be thankful for a good paycheck twice a month. I figure I will just fall over dead one day at work, and annoy who ever has to finish whatever I am working on at the time.

Alzheimer's care

August 5th, 2010
11:48 pm

Stress is a huge factor in a lot of health problems, and too much work causes stress.


September 8th, 2010
6:50 pm

To C from Marietta,
‘to see the other factors’, the entire study is attached as a link in the summary.
check it out.