HEALTHY LIVING
04/20/2012 06:08 pm ET

Call Center Workers Voice Problems: 1 In 4 Has Experienced Sore Throat, Voice Loss Or Breathlessness

Voice problems plague one in four workers at call centers, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Ulster in the U.K. found that 25 percent of people on the job -- which, as everyone knows, involves lots of talking on the phone -- has had a work-related sore throat, loss of voice or breathlessness.

"Policies on voice care should exist in all call centre environments, and should be reviewed regularly. Going forward, there needs to be an emphasis on the prevention of voice problems within the industry –- to maintain optimal vocal health," study researcher Dr. Diane Hazlett, the head of the School of Communication at the University of Ulster, said in a statement. "Employers in this sector need to show they better recognize just how important the voice is, to having a healthy, well supported workforce and a thriving business."

The study was based on survey answers from almost 600 call-center workers from 14 different centers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The study lasted 18 months.

"People who depend on their voices within their day-to-day role, such as actors and singers, often have training on how to control and protect their voice — call agents should be no different," Dr. Luise Vassie, executive director of policy at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, which commissioned the study, said in a statement.

Researchers suggested that people who work at call centers take care to keep their throats properly lubricated, take regular voice breaks, have good posture and be trained properly in order to minimize risks for voice problems.

According to the New York Ear and Eye Infirmary, other "talk-heavy" professions that come with a high risk for voice problems include receptionists, customer service and technically support workers, teachers and attorneys. And police officers, restaurant workers and factory workers are also at risk for voice problems because of their noisy workplaces.

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