The U.S. Department of Labor announced that 11 Americans die each day at work. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Eleven Americans perish each day at their place of employment. But in other developed countries, work itself is the killer.

Working can be deadly. The federal Department of Labor said Wednesday that 11 people in the United States die on the job every day, and another 50,000 perish each year from work-related illness or injury. Most of these deaths are concentrated in high-risk industries like mining, agriculture, and construction, but not all: More than 400 people in professional and desk jobs lost their lives at work in 2012.

Elsewhere in the world, a leading cause of death is work itself. This problem is particularly acute in Japan, a country where social outings are often viewed as a professional responsibility. Officially, Japanese people work fewer hours per year than Americans, but this figure is misleading due to the prevalence of unpaid overtime work. Death from overwork—referred to as kuroshi—is so common that insurance companies compensated 813 families for it in 2012.

In China, where employees often lack union protection, an estimated 1,600 people die each day from overwork. Workplace deaths have also surfaced in South Korea, Indonesia, and even in the United Kingdom, where a 21-year-old Bank of America intern died last year after pulling three "all-nighter" shifts in a row.

Although overwork has not been directly linked to deaths in the United States, professional stress in this country has attracted notice as a growing problem. One factor is technology: Email and mobile phones make it easier for people to be "on call" even when they're not supposed to be working. A 2008 Pew Research survey found that 22 percent of American workers are expected to check work email while they're not at work, while half do so on weekends. Mother Jones found that the percentage of professional and middle-income Americans who worked more than 50 hours per week rose considerably in the 30-plus years since 1977, years that have coincided with wage growth stagnation.

Despite these trends, you're still statistically likelier to die at work from a transportation accident, an altercation with another person or animal, or an accident with workplace equipment.

This piece originally appeared in The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Sensory City Philosopher

    Architect, engineer, and inventor Carlo Ratti envisions a future for urban design that's interactive.

  2. Equity

    What Cities Do Right to Integrate Immigrants, in 4 Charts

    A sociologist interviewed hundreds of immigrants in New York, Barcelona, and Paris. Here's what he says those cities get right—and do wrong—when integrating foreign-born residents.

  3. An illustration shows two alleys in Detroit.
    Design

    Finding the Untapped Potential of Alleys

    “We’re starting to realize they’re just as powerful as a park or plaza.”

  4. A neon sign spells out "66" on historic Route 66.
    Life

    Get Your Kicks Biking Route 66

    Cyclists are now rolling on U.S. Bike Route 66 in Missouri and Kansas, the first stretch of a route planned for the whole length of the historic 2,400-mile highway.

  5. A man bikes down a busy London street with a food-delivery box on the back of his bike.
    Equity

    The Rise of ‘Urban Tech’

    From food-delivery startups to mapping and co-living companies, technology focused on urban systems is drawing billions of dollars in venture capital.