Like any safety concern in the workplace, risk assessment is the key to helping reduce the incidence of voice loss.
In the UNISON Calling guide to organising in call centres,, UNISON, which represents many call centre workers, says that call centre staff who use their voices continuously should have voice training.
Working Voices, a piece of research into voice loss in call centres, carried out in 2012 by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), makes the following recommendations, many of which apply equally to other sectors such as teaching, where frequent voice use is a central demand of the job:
- There should be policies on voice care in all call centres and they should be reviewed regularly.
- There needs to be much better emphasis on preventing voice problems across the sector.
- There should be investment in voice training and raising awareness.
The research says: “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."
It also points out that:
- Better staff education will result in increased awareness, lower levels of absence and greater efficiency.
- New starters, especially women, are most at risk.
- Regular breaks, a change of activity and readjustment of posture will help.
- Computers and equipment should be set up and maintained correctly to help call handlers maintain a good posture, and hear and communicate without force.