Confusion Still Rife over Noise at Work Legislation

Eighteen months after the introduction of the EU Noise at Work legislation many contact centres in the UK are still baffled by the law according to a GN/Jabra survey. The survey revealed that barely 5 per cent of contact centres have a policy in place to adhere to the law. A staggering 86 per cent have not even considered putting a policy in place, again highlighting the complexities and ambiguity of the law which is preventing contact centres from adhering.

“We know from experience that contact centres across the country want to comply with the law but there is so much confusion around the Noise at Work Legislation that most contact centres don’t know where to begin to put a policy in place and as a result many simply don’t bother,” commented Dale Peters, Managing Director, GN UK.

The European Union Noise at Work Legislation was introduced in April 2006 to ensure that employees aren’t exposed to noise over 85db during an eight hour work day. To adhere, Contact Centres have to measure and monitor the ambient noise levels through out their premises, including sound levels both inside and outside the building as well as those transmitted via a phone line, ensuring that they are within the legal limit.

“There are so many different sources of noise going on in a contact centre that it makes it practically impossible to constantly measure the noise levels, so it’s not surprising that our survey found that only 5% of contact centres have a policy in place and that 86% have not considered putting a policy in place,” added Peters.

To help contact centre managers better understand and deal with the Noise at Work Legislation, Jabra has recently partnered with the Acoustic Safety Programme to provide an e-learning programme on the law. The guide is designed to help contact centre managers understand the law as well as giving practical advice on how to set up a policy, measure noise levels and manage the noise-level on an ongoing basis.

Jabra has identified eight top tips to help contact centres become compliant with the law:

– Establish a corporate policy and ensure that all staff regardless of position are aware of the directive

– Carry a programme of regular audiometry to include pre-employment, baseline and ongoing hearing tests.

– Use soft materials as much as possible. Special materials, often available in ceilings can help to reduce reverberation. Carpet, chairs with soft seats and padded screens between agents can also be effective noise absorbers

– Use compliant wired and wireless headsets when the phone usage is intense. GN’s Jabra GN9350 is an ideal wireless solution and remember that any corded GN headset can become law-compliant by simply using the 8120 amplifier

– Educate agents on how to use their phone and headset properly. Introduce a training scheme where every new employee is shown how to increase and decrease the volume on their phone and adjust their headset accordingly.

– Give agents a choice of headsets. Offer agents the opportunity to use either a mono or a duo headset particularly as a duo headset can offer agents additional protection.

– Measure the ambient noise level regularly to ensure compliance
If in any doubt about the levels of noise in your contact centre ensure that agents work no more than eight hours in any shift.

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