WEDNESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Voice problems affect one in four call center workers, a new study finds.
Researchers surveyed nearly 600 workers at 14 call centers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and found that 25 percent had problems such as voice loss, sore throats and breathlessness.
The study also found that call center workers receive regular, comprehensive job training, but few of those training programs deal with voice issues.
The findings were released April 16, which is World Voice Day.
"The voice is a primary work tool for one in three jobs in the U.K., not only in call centers, but also in broadcast journalism, teaching, government, IT, telesales, retailing, marketing, customer care, the hospitality sector and more," study leader Diane Hazlett, head of the School of Communication at the University of Ulster in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release. "Not helping workers look after their voices is an increasingly serious business risk."
Hazlett urged employers to take steps to address voice issues.
"Policies on voice care should exist in all call center environments, and should be reviewed regularly," Hazlett said. "Going forward, there needs to be an emphasis on the prevention of voice problems within the industry -- to maintain optimal vocal health. 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."
She noted that new call center workers -- especially women -- are most at risk as they adjust to the heavy vocal demands of the job.
Ways to reduce the risk of voice problems among call center workers include: information and training; regular breaks; and keeping the throat lubricated.
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about taking care of your voice.