Thousands of call centre staff are at risk if their employers fail to take action to deal with the growing problem of acoustic shock injury, according to asset management provider Nomadtrack.
Out of court settlements already total more than £10m, and the claim base is increasing principally because PC headsets for use with VoIP packages do not offer the basic levels of protection afforded by standard call centre telephony headsets.
Nomadtrack warned that single claims for compensation can run to as much as £20,000.
Nomadtrack further warned that the five million people who are online with Skype at any one time are also at risk.
"Providers of such services, including Skype, Bulldog and Vonage, need to think about the guidance they offer to clients," said Paul Jenkins, managing director of Nomadtrack, and an expert in acoustic shock.
"Cheap headsets can land a company in hot water as the hearing protection is sadly lacking. A PC soundcard can often push four watts of sound into a headset which has the potential to cause temporary or permanent hearing damage."
But Jenkins said that, although awareness of the problem is growing, employers are still facing litigation because of a failure to comply.
One of the options recommended by Nomadtrack is to install telecoms-grade equipment that reduces and actively monitors headset sound levels to make the possibility of any damages claim nearly non-existent.
The company also recommends storing the data needed to prove the case.
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