New Internationalist

Is Your Job Killing You?

Issue 331

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Health hazard / STRESS

Illustration by Nicky Taylor Is your job killing you?

It is now well-established that high-stress jobs where workers have little say peel years off lives. Similarly, high differentials of wages and status adversely affects life expectancy - you live longer at the top and shorter at the bottom. Depression, which in some places has reached epidemic proportions (some 19% of Lebanese), is a common result of many jobs.

Toxic Shock:
Exposure to dangerous chemicals, solvents and other substances such as asbestos, and to coal dust or low levels of radiation, can lead to many different cancers, respiratory diseases and reproductive disorders such as reduced fertility and birth defects.

Heart Disease:
Job strain leads to hypertension, high blood pressure, smoking and increased susceptibility to a range of heart conditions. High-effort/low-reward jobs are a recipe for heart attacks and strokes.

Body Strains:
Some industries, such as construction and lumbering, are notorious for everything from chronic back injuries to death through accidents on the job - this is aggravated when work safety is ‘deregulated’. Newer industries, such as electronic production or those involving the constant use of computers, can lead to painful repetitive-strain injuries or eye ailments.

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