Toyota Engineer Dies From Working Too Many Hours

A Japanese labor bureau has ruled that one of Toyota’s top car engineers died from working too many hours, reports and the AP.

The man, who was 45 years old, died of ischemic heart disease in January 2006. He was the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota’s Camry line, said Mikio Mizuno, the lawyer representing his wife. He was averaging more than 80 hours of overtime per month in the two months up to his death.

Mizuno said the deceased engineer was under brutal pressure and regularly worked nights and weekends. He also was often required to travel abroad for work.

The ruling was given June 30 and will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance, Mizuno said. In a statement, Toyota Motor Corp. offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.

The story reports that there is an effort in Japan to cut down on deaths from overworking, known as "karoshi". These deaths have been common since the Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987.

Last year, a court in central Japan ordered the government to pay compensation to Hiroko Uchino, the wife of a Toyota employee who collapsed at work and died at age 30 in 2002. After her application to the local labor bureau for compensation was rejected, Uchino took the case to court.