Lack of voice training sees one in four call centre workers suffer

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

Around one in 10 were diagnosed with a voice problem, while a tenth said their
work was now suffering because of the stress placed on their vocal cords.

Of the call agents surveyed, 60 per cent reported having difficulty making
themselves heard against background noise and 41 per cent said they had failed
to be heard by the customer on the other end of the line.

More than one in three call agents said that their voice was hoarse often or
very often.

And researchers identified new starters, particularly female workers, as a
high-risk group of call agents who are more likely to develop voice problems.

Experts at Ulster University surveyed nearly 600 call handlers from 14 call
centres across the UK and Ireland, as part of this unique study. These included
outbound customer services and sales services to the retail, finance,
marketing, government, information technology and leisure sectors.

As part of the 18 month-long project, telephone interviews with senior managers
indicated that call agents receive regular, comprehensive job training - both
at induction and throughout their time in the role. However, it appears that
most of these training programmes fail to cover voice care and effectiveness,
and IOSH and the University of Ulster agree something needs to be done to
combat this.

The voice is a primary work tool for one in three jobs in the UK. The IOSH
research suggests employers take the following into consideration:

  • New starters, especially women, are most at risk as they adjust to the heavy vocal demands of the job

  • Risk can be minimised with good work design and by providing information and training

  • Regular breaks, a change of activity and readjustment of posture will help

  • Computers and equipment should be set up correctly to help call handlers maintain a good posture.

More info - Source: Institution of Occupational Safety and Health