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Call Centre Staff Could Face Hearing Damage Risk

People working at call centres could suffer hearing damage from acoustic shock, say health experts. //

Acoustic shocks are temporary or permanent disturbances of the functioning of the ear or of the nervous system, which may be caused to the user of a telephone or earphone by a sudden sharp rise in the acoustic pressure produced by it.

The sound could be a whistle, a bleep or any unexpected noise. Two thirds of call centres in Britain fail to protect their workers against hearing damage from noise, reported the online edition of BBC News.

A group of experts from The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain have formed an Acoustic Safety Programme, aimed at making call centre managers aware of the problem.

There are many people who have experienced acoustic shock but do not realise it, according to the experts. They warn that while some organisations are acting to safeguard the hearing of their staff, the vast majority are not.

Call centres can introduce equipment such as headphones that extract any potential cause of acoustic shock to protect the worker's hearing.

There should also be measures that will raise awareness about the problem, the experts added.

"It (acoustic shock) can be a debilitating occurrence for a call centre worker. They can develop permanent damage to their hearing," said Chris Atwell, operations director for the Acoustic Safety Programme.

Added Mark Downs of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf: "Acoustic shock is not the same as noise-induced hearing loss and is believed to occur at sound pressure levels below those which present an immediate risk to hearing damage."


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