When teacher Joyce Walters developed vocal nodules and lost her voice, her bosses shrugged and said it ‘was an occupational hazard for all teachers’. Joyce has now won a six figure settlement, but she’s speaking out because she’d much rather have the use of her voice and the job she loved.
This winter there will be no seasonal cheer from some workers - their voices won't be up to it. Predictions of particularly harsh weather - and with it low humidity, dry, heated rooms, colds and infections - could usher in a silent blight. Occupational voice loss could affect record numbers of UK workers. A new Hazards report includes checklists on recognising and tackling the causes of this emerging workplace ill-health epidemic. Read the special online report, November 2004 • Work Hoarse. Hazards 88 October-December 2004 [pdf ]
Overwork your voice - shouting over the racket of a noisy class or taking call after call after call on the switchboard - and that might be the last you hear of it.
Hazards 56, July-September 1996
NUT health and safety briefing: Keep the noise down [pdf]
Noise hazards in schools – hazards and solutions. New Jersey Educational Association (NJEA), USA, March 2009 [pdf ]
Resource list on classroom acoustics. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, National Institute of Building Sciences, USA.
Britain: Call centre workers suffer voice problems
One in four call centre workers suffer voice problems because managers are failing to properly protect their health, a study has found. Researchers commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found around one in 10 call handlers had been diagnosed with a voice problem, while the same proportion said their work was now suffering because of the stress placed on their vocal cords.
IOSH news release • Working voices: An epidemiological study of occupational voice demands and their impact on the call centre industry. IOSH, 2012 [pdf ] • Hazards voice loss webpages • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Teacher gets record voice loss payout
An adult education teacher has received a six figure payout for occupational voice loss, after management tried to dismiss her concerns as ‘an occupational hazard for all teachers’. Joyce Walters, 50, said she was speaking out because she doesn’t want others to go through the same “devastating” experiences.
Britain: Teachers use voice-saving headsets
Thousands of teachers are using pop star-style headsets in lessons to help protect their voices. The equipment, linked to speakers around the classroom, not only prevents hoarseness but is said to help pupils to hear better and learn more.
Korea: Most teachers suffer from occupational illnesses
Two-thirds of Korean teachers have had or are currently suffering an occupational disease, a union survey has found. The Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations (KFTA) found 67.2 per cent of teachers said they have or
have experienced occupational diseases, with the most common symptom was vocal nodules, experienced by over one-in-three teachers (34.4 per cent), and linked to occupational voice loss.
Britain: Teaching can jeopardise voice and health
The majority of teachers are suffering voice loss and other work-related ill-health, surveys by teaching union ATL have found. Overall 60 per cent of teachers surveyed had experienced voice problems, with 68 per cent of teachers working in maintained schools experiencing voice problems compared to 57 per cent in independent schools.
Britain: Scottish teacher gets voice loss payout
Scotland's schools and colleges spent more than £250,000 on compensation payments to teachers last year, figures from the union EIS have revealed. A physical education teacher who lost their voice due to “environmental/acoustic” conditions was awarded £8,000.
Britain: Scientific hush mars voice loss investigation
An investigation into the risks of occupational voice loss has been hampered by a lack of good quality studies. The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), the independent body which advises the government on which conditions should be added to the list of prescribed diseases for which state industrial injuries benefits are payable, reached the conclusion in a March paper.
Risks 247 • 11 March 2006
Britain: Teaching union issues voice loss warning
Teaching union NASUWT is warning education employers to work closely with union safety reps to remedy the 'archaic working conditions' that are causing voice loss and other health problems.
Risks 220 • 20 August 2005
Britain: Voice loss threat to call centre workers
Many thousands of workers are talking their way out of a job, as voice loss threatens the livelihood of one in 50 call centre workers, according to the union UNISON. UNISON delegates agreed six key demands to cut the risk of voice loss, including regular rest breaks.
Risks 212 • 25 June 2005
Britain: EIS speaks up for teaching staff who can't
Scottish teaching union EIS is warning that voice strain and voice loss can be a serious problem for teachers and lecturers.
Risks 190 • 15 January 2005
Britain: Work is making us hoarse says TUC
With a big chill and the season for coughs and colds fast approaching, a new report from the TUC-backed Hazards magazine is warning that the combination of germs, dry, centrally-heated offices and jobs that place a strain on employees' vocal chords, could prove disastrous for the millions of UK workers who rely on their voices to do their jobs.
Voices loss hits call centre workers
Call centre workers are suffering from a new industrial disease: repetitive voice injury.
According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, increasing numbers of call-centre workers are being referred to speech therapists because they are losing their voices. Long hours and little opportunity for even a drink of water are to blame.
Risks 172 • 4 September 2004