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No.135(2013/8/23)
Survey Shows Number of Recognized Work-Related Mental Disorders Reached Record High of 475 Cases in Fiscal 2012

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on June 21 released the results of its survey on work-related accident compensation for cerebral and cardiac illnesses and mental disorders authorized in fiscal 2012 (ended March 2013). The survey was conducted to investigate such things as the number of deaths due to cerebral and cardiac illnesses brought on by overwork and the number of mental disorders caused by heavy psychological stress at work.

Work-related accident compensation insurance is a system in Japan established by law whereby benefits for medical care, leave, and so on are granted to workers who have sustained injuries or sickness either at work or while commuting to and from their workplaces. Any employer who hires more than one worker is obliged to subscribe to this scheme and pay the full insurance premium.

1. Work-related accident compensation for cerebral and cardiac illnesses
Cerebrovascular illnesses, such as subarachnoid hemorrhage, and cardiac illnesses, such as myocardial infarction, are sometimes caused by overwork. (In Japanese, death from illnesses brought on by excessive work is called karoshi.)

In fiscal 2012 (April 2012 - March 2013) the number of applications for work-related accident compensation following deaths was 842 cases, a decline of 56 cases from the previous fiscal year and the first decrease in three years. Of these, the number of cases recognized as being eligible for work-related accident compensation was 338, up 28 cases over the previous fiscal year and an increase for the second consecutive year.

Regarding the amount of overtime put in by workers who suffered cerebral or cardiac illnesses and were recognized as being eligible for compensation, 20 patients (including 4 deaths) had worked 60-79 hours of overtime per month, 100 patients (including 50 deaths) had worked 80-99 hours of overtime per month, 69 patients (including 28 deaths) had worked 100-119 hours of overtime per month, and 50 patients (including 14 deaths) had worked 120-139 hours of overtime per month.

Note: "Excessive work" is determined objectively and comprehensively in consideration of work volume, job content, working environment, and other factors. However, the number of working hours is considered to be the most important factor leading to the accumulation of fatigue. If the amount of overtime exceeded 100 hours in the month preceding the onset of the disease, or 80 hours per month in the two months preceding the onset of the disease or over six months, there is deemed to be a strong correlation between work and the onset of the illness.

Trends in Number of Applications and Compensation Settlements for
Work-Related Cerebral and Cardiac Illnesses

Number of Compensation Settlements for Cerebral and Cardiac Illnesses According to Overtime Hours (Monthly Average)

2. Work-related accident compensation for mental disorders

Eligibility for work-related accident compensation for mental disorders is limited to cases in which the mental disorder is judged to have been caused by heavy psychological stress at work.

In fiscal 2012 the number of applications for work-related accident compensation for mental disorders was 1,257 cases, down 15 cases from the previous fiscal year but still a significantly high level. Of these, the number of cases recognized as being eligible for work-related accident compensation was 475, up 150 cases over the previous fiscal year and the highest-ever number for the third consecutive year.

By occupation, the highest number of applications was 342 from office workers, followed by 274 from professional or engineering workers and 153 from customer service workers. The highest number of recognized compensation settlements was 117 for professional or engineering workers, followed by 101 for office workers and 57 for customer service workers.

Regarding the number of compensation settlements by accident, the highest number was for "special accidents" at 84 (including 16 suicides). "Special accidents" refer to critical work-related illnesses or injuries or work-related accidents that caused somebody else's death or critical injury.

Regarding interpersonal relations, the number of cases of harassment or bullying increased significantly from 40 in the previous fiscal year (including 3 suicides) to 55 (including 10 suicides). The number of cases of trouble with bosses likewise doubled from 16 (including 4 suicides) to 35 (including 6 suicides). Regarding job quantity and quality, the number of cases of major changes in work content and quantity was 59 (including 19 suicides). And regarding overtime, the number of cases involving 80 overtime hours or more per month increased more than tenfold from 3 to 32 (including 8 suicides). In addition, the number of cases of serious illness or injury was 45, and the number of cases of personally experiencing or witnessing a terrible accident or disaster was 51 (including 2 suicides).

Work-Related Accident Compensation for Mental Disorders,
Including Deaths from Overwork

(Unit:Case)
    2008 2009 2010 2011 2011
Deaths from overwork,
etc.
No. of
applications
889 767 802 898 842
No. of
compensation settlements
377 293 285 310 338
Mental disorders,
etc.
No. of
applications
927 1,136 1,181 1,272 1,257
No. of
compensation settlements
269 234 308 325 475

Source: Survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Notes:
1. "Deaths from overwork, etc." refer to cases where cerebral or cardiac illnesses (including deaths) occurred due to work (excluding those caused by injury).
2. "Mental disorders, etc." refer to cases where mental disorders (including suicides) occurred due to work.
3. While the number of applications is the total number of applications submitted during the year under review, the number of compensation settlements is not limited to applications submitted during that year.

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