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Survey Reveals Severe Deterioration of Physical and Mental Well Being of Call Center Staff

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June 21, 2012

Survey Reveals Severe Deterioration of Physical and Mental Well Being of Call Center Staff

By Madhubanti Rudra, TMCnet Contributor

Unison (News - Alert), Britain's largest public sector trade union with more than 1.3 million members, has recently taken up a survey of call center workers, revealing that health and well-being of the employees in this sector are at severe risk. The survey revealed that despite government regulations, millions of workers in this sector are living under physical and mental stress, sometimes to the point of severe damage.

Working in an environment, which is closely monitored and target driven, these call center workers are reportedly living under high pressure and severe stress, with their personal lives being considerably affected. To make it worse, they have restricted access to bathroom breaks – an aspect which may lead to severe long term health damage.

According to the survey by Unison, over 800 call center workers were questioned, and it was found that one in four call center workers had restricted access to bathroom breaks – an obviously essential part of working long and oftentimes stressful workdays.

Dave Prentis, Unison’s general secretary, sounded off on these alarming results, saying, “The alarming number of health problems highlighted by the survey shows why health and safety matters, and the folly of this Government's constant attacks on health and safety and the cuts in inspections in workplaces such as call centers. That this survey has shown more than a quarter have had their basic right to a toilet break restricted or monitored is bad enough, but the physical toll on call workers' eyes, ears and voices - the tools of their trade - is something that managers and organizations cannot ignore.

Due to the pressurized, target-driven, closely monitored working arrangements, workers often failed to take measures to protect their health and wellbeing. Almost seven out of 10 of those surveyed said they suffered eye strain, and over half had problems with their hearing and voices. Furthermore, more than 80 percent explained that their work caused them to feel stressed, sometimes to the point of impacting their personal lives.

Based on its findings, the report concluded that there is a “significant risk" to the health and safety of the call center employees.

“Workers rightly expect their employers to have a duty of care not only to their physical health, but also to their mental wellbeing, and the findings of this survey - that eight in 10 are experiencing stress, a quarter of them to a damaging degree - must be addressed urgently,” Prentis added.

Unison held that the call center community should treat the result of this survey as a wake-up call, and start acting upon it immediately. The government should obviously also take necessary actions to address the issues, that is, before things get even worse.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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