Working long hours is dangerous for your health, Associate Professor Dr Philip Riley warned teachers at Federation’s recent Principals’ Conference.
The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2016 revealed that on average, 55 per cent of principals are working more than 50 hours a week, and 27 per cent are working more than 60 hours a week.
Working more than 10 hours a day leads to a 60 per cent increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the US health department, Dr Riley said. “Sometimes the first symptom you experience with this is death — this is the 45 to 55-year-old who everybody thought was very active, fit and healthy who loved their job and suddenly one morning keels over with a heart attack. That massive heart attack was their first symptom of chronic stress.
“Death is really hard to come back from, I’m told, so take the warning now — do something about it.”
He mentioned that a recent Australian National University study shows an average worker’s mental health starts to suffer after working 39 hours per week — or 34 hours for women (to account for carer and domestic duties) and 47 hours for men.
Respondents to the Australian Principals Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2016 feel they are getting virtually no support from their respective departments of education. “On a 1-10 scale they don’t make one on average — that’s pretty appalling,” Dr Riley said.
He stated principals have been given accountability without adequate resources, not autonomy. “High job demands and low decision latitude means an early death. We know this from 50 years of epidemiological research, particularly with middle-ranking public servants: that fits the bill, exactly, for a school principal,” he warned.
The survey revealed the high demands on principals compared to the general population: