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Call Centres: Work-related Injuries

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of (a) hearing-related sickness and injury and (b) acoustic shock amongst employees in UK call centres have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations since January 1999; and if he will make a statement. (102610)

The information requested cannot be reliably identified from routine RIDDOR classifications, and the Standard Industrial Classification for call centres was only introduced in 2001. However, a text search of RIDDOR reports for all businesses for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 (provisional) finds a total of 11 injuries where the term “acoustic shock” is mentioned in the report and a further 22 reports involving noise associated with a telephone. All these injuries resulted in the affected person being off work for four or more consecutive days.

Reported incidents involving noise associated with telephones in all businesses1 April to 31 MarchIncidents using text searches excluding ‘acoustic shock’Text searches where ‘acoustic shock’ is mentioned2001-02812002-0315142003-04712004-05232005-06 (provisional)—2 1 One incident was identified where the occupation of the affected person was ‘call centre agent/operator’. Notes:1. Text searches used variations of ‘phone’, ‘noise’, ‘call centre’ and ‘acoustic shock’ in the free-text accident description field. Data before April 2001 are not available in sufficient detail to identify relevant incidents.2. RIDDOR 1995 applies to Great Britain only; separate reporting arrangements exist for Northern Ireland.

Under RIDDOR employers should report fatalities, certain types of major injuries, dangerous occurrences and work-related injuries, which result in admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours or the affected person being unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days. The list of RIDDOR prescribed diseases does not cover hearing loss due to noise exposure or acoustic shock. RIDDOR data would only cover such conditions if they resulted in admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours or the affected person being unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days.