Touted as the country’s leading source of employment, call centers are now also considered a threat to the health of many young professionals.
Occupational health experts warned yesterday of a possible rise in the prevalence of mental disorder and other diseases due to the growing number of call centers in the country.
Dr. Dulce Gust, Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) executive director, said call center agents are at great risk of suffering from anxiety, stress, muscoloskeletal disorder and eye problems aside from hearing disorder caused by continuous telephone use.
Gust noted that OSHC, an attached-agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), has been conducting studies on the safety and health conditions among workers in call centers since 2002.
While the job of a call center agent may seem harmless, Gust said, the profession is actually very stressful because the young workers are commonly exposed to irate clients.
“In the study we have undertaken, agents reported severe anxiety at work that prompted them to seek emergency treatment due to difficulty in breathing,” Gust further disclosed.
Aside from psycho-social disorders, Gust said, call center agents are also prone to suffer from physical disorders like neck, shoulder and back pains as a result of long hours of sitting and use of computers.
“Computer-related health disorders (are) the biggest concern among young call center agents,” Gust said.
Labor undersecretary for social protection Romeo Lagman said there are over a hundred call centers nationwide, which currently employ some 175,000 young workers.
Lagman said the Philippines is the now the world’s leading manpower provider for call centers but the government is working for the hiring of more Filipinos in the sector.
The projected rise in number of call center agents, Gust said, could also bring about substantial growth in the incidence of work-related diseases.
To prevent possible rise in the incidence of anxiety and other diseases related to working in call centers, OSHC has developed a training program and technical guidelines for the sector.
Gust said OSHC is now working with management of call centers in identifying hazards and risks as well as taking the necessary measures to contain and manage occupational health risks in the workplace.