The Hong Kong government has commissioned a study to look into employees dying from coronary diseases in the workplace amid an alarming trend of employees dying due to long working hours.

Law Chi-kwong, a secretary for the Labour and Welfare Bureau, responded to a question in the Legislative Council on Wednesday by saying that a study focusing on the death of employees in the workplace caused by coronary and cerebrovascular diseases was being done by the Occupational Safety and Health Council, according to a government release.

Social welfare sector lawmaker Bottle Shiu Ka-chun – who was jailed over his involvement in the Occupy Central case – asked if the government regarded illnesses triggered by long working hours or work pressure as occupational diseases covered by the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, so people affected would be entitled to compensation.

Another lawmaker, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, asked the question on Shiu’s behalf.

Law said there is no internationally recognized criteria or medical evidence to link long working hours or stress from work to certain kinds of mental, emotional or physical diseases and it would be difficult for the government to monitor these things.

But he added that the study the council had started would analyze whether there were any links between the deaths and working conditions. The council started to interview deceased employees’ relatives, employers and colleagues in the first quarter of 2018 and is expected to complete the study in three years.