China has reportedly overtaken Japan to become the country posting the highest number of deaths caused by overwork, most specifically noticeable in the manufacturing sector, according to iheima, a Chinese consulting service website.
Exhaustive work conditions has been known to be a serious problem across Asia and the phenomenon of death resulting from overwork has been widely studied across countries such as South Korea, Bangladesh and Japan. Japan’s first case of karoshi, translated as “death from overwork”, was reported in 1969 and soon after, the Japanese Ministry of Labor began to publish statistics on the problem.
According to Japan Times, death by overwork lawsuits in the country have been on the rise in recent years, resulting in relatives of the deceased demanding compensation payments, although no exact figures of death from karoshi have been released.
Overwork in China is also a serious problem. China Youth Daily has cited that some 600,000 people in the country die a year due to “work exhaustion”.
Want China Times elaborates:
The manufacturing sector has seen the highest number of such deaths, reported iheima, a website offering consulting services to entrepreneurs, followed by PR, media, e-commerce, start-ups, finance, communication, internet, gaming and courier services.
“The invincible Chinese workers produce cheap, quality goods for the world, but pay the high price of health and lives,” iheima said, citing the example of Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Foxconn Group, which produces consumer electronics at its plants in China.
Last year, we reported that a 24-year-old employee at Ogilvy & Mather China’s offices in Beijing suffered from a sudden heart attack believed to have been brought on by overwork and in 2011, media reported that a 25-year-old PriceWaterhouseCoopers employee in Shanghai had allegedly been “worked to death“.
Deaths resulting from overwork are excluded from most accident insurance policies in China, Beijing Business Today has reported, prompting CIGNA and CMC Life Insurance Co to launch insurance policies that cover sudden death.