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telephone operators & headaches

Posted on 2010-11-22
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is it scientifically/medically true that telephone operators could be more prone to be hit with headaches? if yes, is it the 'ringing' or what else could be the reason?

thanks
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Question by:anushahanna
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13 Comments
 
LVL 27

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aburr earned 46 total points
ID: 34193238
"is it scientifically/medically true that telephone operators could be more prone to be hit with headaches?"

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It is scientifically possible but I doubt if it has been proven.
It will be difficult to get enough telephone operators at this time to get a population big enough to get a reliable statistical result. The telephone operator has gone the way of the buggy whip maker.
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LVL 32

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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 182 total points
ID: 34193314
Compared to whom?  Jack-hammer operators, no.

Other workers who sit in one position for very long periods of time...probably not.

Ringing...I don't think operators actually hear a bell or speaker making a ringing sound...switchboards in late 1800s had an indicator lamp for incoming calls.  I worked (and supported) a few PBX and receptionist desks before.  Rings were usually disabled or replaced with a low-volume beep.  Indicator lights on the inbound lines were blinking red LEDs.
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LVL 37

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by:TommySzalapski
TommySzalapski earned 136 total points
ID: 34193356
The only thing I could see increasing the likelihood of headaches would be if the operators' headphones were turned up fairly high.
In an environment with a lot of operators in close cubicles (like many call centers) they often need to turn the volume up fairly high on their phones. This could cause an increased risk of headaches.
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LVL 34

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by:Michael-Best
Michael-Best earned 46 total points
ID: 34193489
Any job you do not like to do: is scientifically/medically true to be more prone to be hit with headaches.
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LVL 32

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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 182 total points
ID: 34193600
^ I think that's psychological or psychosomatic versus "medical" isn't it?  :)
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LVL 37

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by:TommySzalapski
TommySzalapski earned 136 total points
ID: 34193717
aburr and aleghart, By 'telephone operators' I believe the asker just means people who use telephones all day (constomer service, tech support, sales, telemarketers, etc). There are lots of people to study who are operating phones all day. Every call center I've been in still uses rings although they are usually turned fairly low.

I agree with Michael-Best and would add that any job where you talk to people all day is bound to be somewhat likely to give you a headache (I've done tech support and the folks on the other line can be very frustrating).
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LVL 17

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by:Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd earned 45 total points
ID: 34194522
Wearing a headset for extended periods can cause headaches. It's not the sound just the physical pressure, although light it is constant. I don't know if there is any science to back this up, but I get very uncomfortable wearing a headset even for ten minutes. For someone who uses one all day it could be very unpleasant.
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Author Comment

by:anushahanna
ID: 34196529
thanks-

other than trying to avoid a headset, what could someone handling telephones all day do to cope up better to handle it? any ideas/pointers?
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LVL 1

Assisted Solution

by:geriatricgeek
geriatricgeek earned 45 total points
ID: 34196593
As with any job, having a sense of humor and a good attitude towards life is key.  And when the stress of the job and other environmental conditions steer  you all off course, then you need something that will bring you back to your good attitude.
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LVL 37

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by:TommySzalapski
TommySzalapski earned 136 total points
ID: 34197804
Make sure to take adequate breaks and walk around or someting duing the breaks. Don't sit at the desk and browse Facebook on breaks, get up and move and breathe. Do something relaxing.
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LVL 32

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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 182 total points
ID: 34199017
Avoiding a headset is not a solution.  A well made headset can improve sound quality, eliminate background noise, and reduce the need to turn up the volume (on either end of the call).  A well made headset should distribute weight evenly over a large area of the top of the head.

The trendy look of over-the-ear sets are great for vanity...you get to show off your spectacular hair...but they put pressure on body parts not designed to bear weight.  I wear heavy eyeglasses, and I'm glad to switch to contacts to get the weight off my ears and nose.  The tiny muscle movements to compensate for a foreign object cause fatigue and more headaches.  I'm that applies to ill-fitting headsets.

Isolate external sounds.  I hate listening to a customer "service" rep who is obviously calling from a cheap boiler-room operation.  Background noise is distracting to both parties, and increases stress levels.  Trying to blast over the noise by amplifying the phone call is poor design for a call center.
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LVL 32

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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 182 total points
ID: 34199192
>Every call center I've been in still uses rings

My point exactly.  The rings are artificial.  Switchboards were designed with lights for obvious reasons: keep the noise down.  A ringer on a digital telephone is a throwback to the days of AC-powered bell with mechanical hammers.  They were made to call attention from a _distance_, like from another room.

The first installations were for single phones.  Multiple lines and multiple phones per line would become commonplace...but in a residential setting, where users were rarely next to the phone, a ringer is still necessary.

In a call center situation, the user is sitting right next to the phone.  Why is a ringer necessary?  Blink a light, or better, popup a screen with info on the call and database info on the customer.  Is the user blind?  Then use a vibrating indicator.

Noise should be limited to users who aren't paying attention.  After two flash cycles, initiate a beep.  Escalate that beep louder, ending in a loud ringtone.  At that point, it will become obvious to co-workers and supervisors that an operator has failed to take care of a call.  Without any distinguishing features, all rings sound the same, and punish everyone in the call center.

Like I said...bad design.  Lazy or cheap, or both.
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LVL 6

Author Comment

by:anushahanna
ID: 34210388
wow- that is a lot of resourceful and helpful info...

thank you experts!
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