One in four call centre agents suffer voice problems because managers are failing to properly protect their health, a health and safety body has said.
A new study, commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found that call handlers had suffered one or more of a range of ill-effects because of their work, including voice loss, sore throats and breathlessness.
Around one in ten were diagnosed with a voice problem, while a tenth said their work was now suffering because of the stress placed on their vocal cords. More than one in three call agents said that their voice was hoarse often or very often.
Researchers identified new starters, particularly female workers, as a high-risk group of call agents who are more likely to develop voice problems.
Dr Luise Vassie, executive director of policy at IOSH, said that investing in voice training and raising awareness of the issues could benefit business. She added: “In the current economic climate purse strings are tight and businesses are wary of spending ‘unnecessarily’. Vocal health doesn’t have to cost a fortune, in fact most things, like ensuring call agents keep their throats lubricated by drinking water regularly, are simply common sense and low cost.
“By educating staff on voice care issues, they become more aware of the risks they face and how they can be prevented – this can lead to reduced absence levels, a more efficient way of working, and, in the long run, business profitability.”