School operations

Voice Care for Teachers

2. Identifying and assessing voice health hazards and risks

Teachers and school staff are at increased risk of developing voice health problems due to the frequency and duration of speaking required during work. Teachers and school staff are most at risk of voice fatigue or injury when they are just beginning their teaching career, returning after a break or after illness that effects the throat or sinus.

Common voice health hazards include but are not limited to:

  • talking at length without breaks
  • talking loudly
  • speaking over background noise
  • projecting the voice in open plan classrooms or when outdoors
  • speaking in areas with poor insulation from external noise
  • speaking in environments with floor, wall or ceiling surfaces that cause sound reverberation or echo, for example, hard surfaces such as lino, ceramic, concrete, or timber.

Regular workplace safety inspections must be undertaken by the principal or delegate in consultation with the health and safety representative (HSR), where elected, to identify hazards that may pose a risk to teachers’ voice health. For further information and guidance refer to Workplace Safety Inspections.

If hazards are identified, following the OHS risk management procedure and conducting a risk assessment (DOCX)External Link is a practical way of considering the likelihood and severity of the voice health hazards. As part of the risk assessment, consideration should be given to:

  • understanding of voice production and voice care principles
  • voice use patterns
  • voice production techniques
  • health and stress patterns
  • characteristics of the physical environment.

School staff can access the Voice Care Guidelines (DOCX)External Link which provide further support for staff in understanding prevention strategies and symptoms of voice fatigue and self-assessment tools to identify potential physical, emotional and environmental hazards.

The OHS Advisory Service and regional OHS support officers can provide advice on preventing and managing voice problems, including completing a risk assessment to gather further information on unknown or high-risk hazards.

Includes information on common voice health hazards

Reviewed 24 November 2023

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