The risk of overwork death (karoshi) in the wake of natural disasters

A review of the business resilience issues facing the food sector in 2020

The rise in food allergies in recent years has been well documented. Between 1995-2016 there was a five-fold increase in peanut allergies in the UK. Food allergies now affect around 7 percent of children in the UK – and hospital admissions for children suffering from allergic reactions have risen every year for the past five years.

In September the inquest into the death of Owen Carey on his 18th birthday highlighted the ongoing issue of allergies in the food service sector. Owen, who had a dairy allergy, ordered grilled chicken from Byron. He told staff about his allergy, but they didn’t tell him the meal contained buttermilk, which caused a deadly anaphylactic reaction.

Commenting after the Coroner’s Court hearing Owen’s sister told the BBC: “It’s simply not good enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their server, which often takes place in a busy, noisy restaurant where the turnover of staff is high and many of their customers are very young.”…


The risk of overwork death (karoshi) in the wake of natural disasters

Death by overwork, a phenomenon known as karoshi, has become a major social issue in Japan. The Japanese government formulated a policy in 2015 to try and reduce the number of people who have died as a result of overwork death and overwork suicide (karojisatsu), yet the numbers have remained fairly static.

Last year, for example, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare reported that 190 people died from overwork (including overwork suicide) in 2017, which is only one person less than 2016. Approximately half of 2017’s recognised cases of overwork death involved people who had worked more than 100 hours of overtime a month—the so called “karoshi line” that is considered the threshold for linking an employee’s death to overwork.

Natural disaster is another major risk that Japan has frequently confronted in recent decades. Yet it was only in the wake of the overwhelming floods Japan faced last year that early evidence emerged about how these two phenomena (natural disasters and overwork death) might intersect….


How Resilience Technology is Helping Communities Through Natural Disasters

Resilience isn’t something that just happens, it’s a byproduct of planning and ensuring the right technologies are in place before they are needed.

At 8:30 AM on a Friday, when many people were starting their morning commute, the ground in Anchorage, Alaska began to quake. The single road leading into the state’s largest city twisted and churned into crumpled piles of asphalt.

In all, eight major roadways in Anchorage were damaged or destroyed. Five short days later, all eight had reopened. How was one of the United States’ most remote cities, deep in the throes of winter, able to repair so much so quickly?

Simply put, they were prepared.

Alaskan officials had a plan in place, they had the proper equipment and machinery on hand, and they had a specific set of operations to follow in the event of an earthquake. Their preparation made them resilient and able to recover more quickly from the unpredictability of nature’s wrath….

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