If you think you work too much, maybe you better slow down. If not, you may end up like an engineer at a Japanese automaker who recently worked himself to death.

For the past 8 years, I have analyzed and tracked the large amount of data that we capture in our annual State of the Profession survey. We always ask several questions about the amount of time people spend at work.

Questions include “How many hours does your current work week average?”; “During the past year, have the hours you spend at work each week increased?”; and “During the next 12 months, do you expect the hours you will spend at work each week to increase, decrease or stay the same?”

According to this year’s study, which is featured in the July issue of ASSEMBLY, 88 percent of respondents work more than 40 hours a week. The national average is 46 hours. And, given today’s weak economic climate, many people are being asked to do more work than ever.

Every year, I’m always amazed that some people claim they work more than 60 hours a week. I often wonder who those guys are and how they find time for anything else in life, such as playing a round of golf, reading a book at the beach or eating dinner with their family.

A disturbing headline in yesterday’sChicago Tribunejumped out at me: “At age 45, star Japanese engineer dies of overwork.” It turns out that the poor fellow was a senior engineer who worked at Toyota's sprawling Toyota City complex. He was the lead engineer on a team developing a hybrid version of the Camry sedan.

In the two months before his sudden death from ischemic heart disease in 2006, the unidentified man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month. Officials at the Aichi Labor Bureau blamed his death on overworking, which is not uncommon in Japan and is called karoshi. The ruling, which was reached several weeks ago, will entitle the man’s family to collect benefits.