Call-centre staff 'risk damaging their voices' workers 'at risk of voice damage'

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The Independent Online

Call-centre staff who spend all day talking to customers on the telephone are developing voice problems similar to those suffered by singers and teachers, research shows.

The study by researchers at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that 60 per cent of call-centre staff had suffered a voice disorder. At one call centre 78 per cent of staff had been affected.

Thousands of people are employed in call centres across Britain and the industry is now estimated to account for 2 per cent of the workforce. Some workers could be at risk of developing nodules on the vocal cords, which might entitle them to compensation from their employers if it could be proved the condition was an industrial injury. Some education authorities have been forced to pay compensation to teachers.

The research involved analysing recordings of workers' voice patterns for changes in pitch and signs of tension in the vocal cords, larynx and jaw. Dr Janet Beck, of the university's speech and language sciences department, recommended that people minimise the risk by drinking plenty of water, resting their voices periodically and learning to relax.

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