I often suffer from a sore throat or cough. Could it be to do with my work environment?

A sore throat, even being unable to speak at all, is common among call centre workers. It comes from handling dozens or even hundreds of calls a day, often under pressure, in a dry environment, without taking proper care of your voice.

Voice impairment (dysphonia) is an occupational illness affecting people for whom using their voice is an essential part of their job – this covers a wide range of jobs, but especially affects teachers and call centre workers.

A 2012 study by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found that one in four call centre agents suffer voice problems, including voice loss, sore throats and breathlessness, because managers are failing to protect their health. Up to 60% of workers reported having difficulty making themselves heard against background noise and 41% said they had failed to be heard by the customer on the other end of the line. Researchers found that new starters, especially female workers, were at particularly high risk.

For further advice, see What should my employer do about voice care? in workSMART’s Voice section.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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