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TUCP plays down hazards of call center work

TUCP plays down hazards of call center work

By Jerome Aning
Last updated 08:18pm (Mla time) 10/21/2006

THE Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Saturday played down the supposed risks to one’s health posed by working in a call center but nonetheless urged both center operators and employees to be careful.

"While there may be some work-related health risks associated with call centers, these are not necessarily limited to the (call center) setting; many occupations tend to expose workers to certain health hazards," said TUCP secretary general Ernesto Herrera.

For example, he said, airline crews tend to develop health issues, related mostly to their staying awake across varying time zones and standing up most of the time, particularly during long flights.

Nurses and other hospital workers are also constantly threatened with infectious diseases, he added.

Even sailors are extremely vulnerable to depression, Herrera said, but still, a growing number of Filipinos want to become sailors because the pay is good.

The former senator, however, said this does not mean that health risks in call centers are not an issue. “They are a concern, in the same manner health issues in other occupations are a concern."

"This just underscores the need for employers and staff in all job settings to purposely take adequate preventive measures in order to lessen the risks, and to make sure disorders are promptly diagnosed and treated," he added.

The labor department's Occupational Safety and Health Center, citing results of a survey, has warned that call center personnel risk suffering from anxiety, stress, muscoloskeletal disorders, and eye problems, as well as hearing ailments.

These are caused by continuous telephone and computer use, long hours of sitting, cold and noisy workplace, and the need to meet quotas.

Medical experts have also warned that call center staff face the risk of ulcers, obesity, stress leading to depression, tense muscles, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, loss of concentration, and over-fatigue.

In any case, Herrera said that call center workers generally enjoy extraordinary health care benefits, on top of their competitive pay.

In fact, he added, global business process outsourcing (BPO) providers here have been noticeably using the exceptional medical benefits as come-ons in their recruitment drives.

On top of the private medical and hospitalization insurance they receive, call center agents also enjoy protection mandated by the government in the form of benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Employees' Compensation Fund.

As of June this year, call centers employed more than 179,000 Filipinos. Of the 1,082,800 Filipinos expected to be employed in technology-enabled services by 2010, nearly 50 percent or 506,500 would be engaged by call centers, according to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.


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