Transport, postal industry workers suffer most from brain, heart disorders: white paper

07 Oct 2017, 15:10 ... t-disorder

Transport and postal businesses had the highest number of workers recognized to have suffered from brain and heart disorders including death by overwork, the government said in a white paper.

The transport and mailing businesses comprised about 30 percent of the total cases between 2010 and 2015 with 464 workers affected followed by the wholesale and retail businesses with 229. The manufacturing industry ranked top in terms of work-related mental disorders at 349, according to the white paper.

The paper comes at a time when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is seeking to improve working conditions in the wake of the suicide of an overworked new recruit at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and the work-related death of a reporter at the country's public broadcaster NHK.

The white paper mentioned initiatives taken by the government and businesses to overhaul working styles such as limiting extra working hours.

It also mentioned the government's urgent measures announced in December in response to the Dentsu worker's death in 2015, which called on businesses to monitor employees' working hours and also prevent power harassment.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato told a press conference, "We will continue to take measures by applying maximum efforts with the mission of eradicating death by overwork and realizing a society where people can continue working in good health and with a sense of fulfillment."

In the white paper, the government analyzed data on heart and mental disorders recognized to be linked with work between January 2010 and March 2015.

By age, the highest number of work-related compensation cases for brain and heart disorders was among people aged between 50 and 59.

Suicides in mental disorder cases were prevalent among men in their 40s and women aged 29 or younger, according to the data.

Separately, the government surveyed employers and employees in the truck and other transport industries and in the restaurant industry, where many deaths and suicides due to excessive work have been recorded.

Based on the survey, the government highlighted the importance of appropriate personnel assignment and measures to improve mental health, while calling on employers of vehicle drivers to slash work hours on holidays and late at night in the peak business period of December.

Analyzing the results of a survey that covered about 10,000 businesses and some 20,000 employees in 2015 and 2016, the government concluded that companies that accurately kept track of employees' working hours were able to reduce overtime hours and raise the number of paid holidays that were actually used.

In the same paper, the government also mentioned the results of a survey taken between December last year and January this year on company executives and self-employed individuals such as business owners who are not bound by the Labor Standards Law.

The survey found 9 percent of company executives and 14 percent of self-employed individuals worked more than 60 hours per week, with the highest number of such people found in the hotel and restaurant industries.

Those who did not track their working hours accounted for 50 percent of company executives and 73 percent of self-employed individuals.

The white paper is based on a law to prevent death by overwork, which came into force in November 2014. The legislation stipulates the government's responsibility to take measures against death caused by excessive work and obliges it to report on conditions and policies to the Diet. The government began publishing the annual document last year.

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