Headlines: December 11th, 2001

Call centres are a modernisation tool being taken up across the public sector – but a note of caution about their use has been sounded in a report from the Health and Safety Executive. (HSE)The report offers new advice on stress caused to those employed handling calls, guidance on good practice on lengths and frequencies of breaks, policies on verbal abuse, and HSE’s latest views on any potential hearing hazard.

Hotdesking, targets, and shiftworking are also covered in the report, which is the result of some of the most extensive research so far into the industry.

Call centres often face employees with a more intensive working environment than other computer-based office jobs. HSE commissioned research to keep abreast of the new forms of work and establish the risks they contain. This significant new industry now employs up to two per cent of the population – more than the combined workforce of coal mining, steel and vehicle production.

The HSE wants the new guidance taken into consideration on top of existing regulations which both the HSE and local authorities, responsible for inspecting in most call centres, can enforce.

The advice will be available on internet at www.hse.gov.uk/lau

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