Main Article Content
Call Center Operators; Call Center Employees; Occupational Disease; Vocal cord nodules; Employment Status
Background: Work related diseases (WRDs) and occupational diseases (ODs) greatly affect call center operators (CCOs) who experience demanding work expectations and adverse working conditions in their workplace. The aim of this study was to evaluate the sociodemographic and job characteristics of CCOs diagnosed with OD, and to describe the changes in employment status after diagnosis. Methods: This descriptive study is based on the electronic data records of Istanbul Occupational Diseases Hospital available from February 2007 to March 2018. Results: According to the health board reports, 122 of the 173 (70.5%) CCOs had a confirmed OD diagnosis, 85.2% were females and the mean age was 27.5 years. Vocal cord disorders were the most frequent ODs (64.8%), followed by hearing loss (12.5%), dysphonia (10.2%) and temporomandibular disorders (4.7%). Vocal cord nodules (VCN) were found to be more frequent among females compared to males (92.9% vs 62.4%, p<0.001). Although not statistically significant, the frequency of VCN was also higher in subjects working overtime (14.6% vs 6.3%), having gastroesophageal reflux disease (82.3% vs 73.9%) or thyroid nodules (100% vs 73.7%) and being current smokers (41.7% vs 13.3%). Following the OD diagnosis, 43.8% of the cases were dismissed, 18.7% quit their job, and 9.4% still held the same job position. Only 28.1% changed unit within the workplace. Conclusion: Including the CCOs who were diagnosed with an OD at a very young age and at an early stage of their working life into vocational rehabilitation programs and employing them under appropriate conditions is essential to proper health and safety protocol.
2- Call Centers Association (2021). Turkey Call Center Market Research, 1-18. Available online: https://www.cagrimerkezleridernegi.org/Public/Upload/Catalog/EA8HVDZUADGQ4V4.pdf [Accessed on 15.12.2021]
3- Global No.1 Business Data Platform “Number of contact center employees in the United States from 2014 to 2020” tables. Available online: https://www.statista.com/statistics/881114/contact-center-employees-united-states/ [Accessed on 17.12.2021].
4- White, King. 2015, "How Big is the U.S. Call Center Industry Compared to India and The Philippines? Available online: https://info.siteselectiongroup.com/blog/how-big-is-the-u.s.-call-center-market-compared-to-india-latin-america-and-the-philippines-2 [Accessed on 16.12.2021]
5- Sprigg CA, Smith PR, Jackson PR. Psychosocial risk factors in call centers: an evaluation of work design and well-being. UK, HSE Research Report (RR 169) Sudbury, 2013
6- Charbotel B, Croidieu S, Vohito M, et al. Working conditions in call-centers, the impact on employee health: a transversal study. Part II. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2009 May;82(6):747-56. doi: 10.1007/s00420-008-0351-z.
7- Raja JD, Bhasin SK. Health issues amongst call center employees, an emerging occupational group in India. Indian J Community Med. 2014; 39:175-7 DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.137156
8- Moreira-Silva I., Queirós R., Seixas A., Cardoso R., Ventura N., Azevedo J. (2022) Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Portuguese Call Center Operators: Associations with Gender, Body Mass Index and Hours of Work. In: Arezes P.M. et al. (eds) Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health III. Studies in Systems, Decision and Control, vol 406. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-89617-1_19
9- International Labour Organization (ILO). The Prevention of Occupational Diseases. World Day for Safety and Health at Work, 28 April 2013 Available online: http://www.ilo.org/safework/info/publications/WCMS_208226/lang--en/index.htm. [Accessed on 08.01.2022].
10- e-Mevzuat [Internet] General Directorate of Law and Legislation; 2008. Regulation on determination of loss of work power and earnings power loss in profession [Çalışma Gücü ve Meslekte Kazanma Gücü Kaybı Oranı Tespit İşlemleri Yönetmeliği]. Official Gazette Number 27021 (Turkey): presidency of Republic of Turkey. Available online: http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/Metin.Aspx?MevzuatKod=7.5.12511&MevzuatIliski=0&sourceXmlSea. [in Turkish] [Accessed on 19.12.2021].
11- Jones K, Sigmon J, Hock L, et al. Prevalence and risk factors for voice problems among telemarketers. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002 May;128(5):571-7. doi: 10.1001/archotol.128.5.571.
12- Piwowarczyk TC, Oliveira G, Lourenço L, Behlau M. Vocal symptoms, voice activity, and participation profile and professional performance of call center operators. J Voice. 2012 Mar;26(2):194-200. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2011.02.006. PMID: 2170449
13- Poochada W, Chaiklieng S. Ergonomic Risk Assessment among Call Center Workers. Procedia Manufacturing, 2015, 3, 4613-4620. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.543
14- Croidieu S, Charbotel B, Vohito M, et al. Call-handlers' working conditions and their subjective experience of work: a transversal study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2008 Oct;82(1):67-77. doi: 10.1007/s00420-008-0308-2.
15- Inspection Program Result Report for Improving Working Conditions in Call Centers and Raising Awareness of Social Partners (Turkish), Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ankara, 2013.
16- Vicki Belt, "A Female Ghetto? Women’s Careers in Telephone Call Centres," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Stephen Deery & Nicholas Kinnie (ed.), 2004. Call Centres and Human Resource Management, Chapter 8, pages 174-197
17- Lehto L, Laaksonen L, Vilkman E, Alku P. Occupational voice complaints and objective acoustic measurements-do they correlate? Logoped Phoniatr Vocol. 2006;31(4):147-52. doi: 10.1080/14015430600654654.
18- Ferreira LP, Akutsu CM, Luciano P, Viviano NAG. Vocal production condition of telemarketing operators: correlation between heath issues and vocal habits and symptoms. Rev Soc Bras Fonoaudiol. 2008; 13:307–315 https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-80342008000400003.
19- Santos CT, Santos C, Lopes LW,et al. Relationship between working and voice conditions self-reported by telemarketers of an emergency call center. Codas. 2016 9-10;28(5):583-594. Portuguese, English. doi: 10.1590/2317-1782/20162015125.
20- Roy N, Merrill RM, Thibeault S, et al. Prevalence of voice disorders in teachers and the general population. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2004 Apr;47(2):281-93. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2004/023).
21- Butler JE, Hammond TH, Gray SD. Gender-related differences of hyaluronic acid distribution in the human vocal fold. Laryngoscope. 2001 May;111(5):907-11. doi: 10.1097/00005537-200105000-00029.
22- Hunter EJ, Tanner K, Smith ME. Gender differences affecting vocal health of women in vocally demanding careers. Logoped Phoniatr Vocol. 2011 Oct;36(3):128-36. doi: 10.3109/14015439.2011.587447.
23- Hazlett DE, Duffy OM, Moorhead SA. Occupational voice demands and their impact on the call-centre industry. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(1):108. PMid:19379478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-9-108.
24- Venet T, Bey A, Campo P, et al. Auditory fatigue among call dispatchers working with headsets. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2018 Jan 1;31(2):217-226. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01131
25- Smagowska B. Noise at work in the call center. Arch Acoust. 2010;35:253–64. DOI:10.2478/V10168-010-0024-2
26- Gerges R, Gerges S, Vergara F, Vergara L. Noise exposure and acoustic comfort in call centres. Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress on Sound and Vibration; 10-14 July, 2016, Athens, Greece. 2016.
27- John A, Poonamjeet L, Peter M, Musa N. Demographic Patterns of Acoustic Shock Syndrome as Seen in a Large Call Centre. Occup Med Health Aff. 2015; 3:212. doi: 10.4172/2329-6879.1000212
28-Pawlaczyk-Luszczynska M, Dudarewicz A, Zamojska-Daniszewska M, et al. Noise exposure and hearing status among call center operators. Noise Health. 2018 Sep-Oct;20(96):178-189. doi: 10.4103/nah.NAH_11_18.
29- Saruhanoğlu A, Gökçen-Röhlig B, Saruhanoğlu C, et al. Frequency of temporomandibular disorder signs and symptoms among call center employees. Cranio. 2017 Jul;35(4):244-249. doi: 10.1080/08869634.2016.1216823.
30- Oh H, Park H, Boo S. Mental health status and its predictors among call center employees: A cross-sectional study. Nurs Health Sci. 2017 Jun;19(2):228-236. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12334.
31- Zapf D, Isic A, Bechtoldt M, Blau P. What is typical for call centre jobs? Job characteristics, and service interactions in different call centres. Eur J Work Organ Psy. 2003; 12(4): 311±340. https://doi.org/10. 1080/13594320344000183
32- Wingate JM, Brown WS, Shrivastav R, et al. Treatment outcomes for professional voice users. J Voice. 2007 Jul;21(4):433-49 doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2006.01.001.
33- Verdolini K, Ramig LO. Review: occupational risks for voice problems. Logoped Phoniatr Vocol. 2001;26(1):37-46. PMID: 11432413.
34-National Occupational Rehabilitation Workshop Report, February 8, 2021, Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, Centre for Labor and Social Training and Research, Ankara
35-Beyan AC, Demiral Y, Cimrin A. Employment status changes of workers after referral to an occupational disease clinic. J Occup Health. 2018 Nov 27;60(6):494-501. doi: 10.1539/joh.2017-0282-OA.
36-Piirilä PL, Keskinen HM, Luukkonen R, et al. Work, unemployment and life satisfaction among patients with diisocyanate induced asthma--a prospective study. J Occup Health. 2005 Mar;47(2):112-8. doi: 10.1539/joh.47.112.
37- Ameille J, Pairon JC, Bayeux MC, et al. Consequences of occupational asthma on employment and financial status: a follow-up study. Eur Respir J. 1997 Jan;10(1):55-8. doi: 10.1183/0
38- Roquelaure Y, Cren S, Rousseau F, et al. Work status after workers' compensation claims for upper limb musculoskeletal disorders. Occup Environ Med. 2004 Jan;61(1):79-81.
39-Nemarnik RE, Macan J. Employment status of workers with a diagnosed occupational disease in Croatia: a 10-year trend (2005-2014). Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2018 Sep 1;69(3):220-225. doi: 10.2478/aiht-2018-69-3132.