education.vic.gov.au

3. Controlling the risks

Environments and activities that may pose a risk to voice health can be avoided or managed with a range of controls.

The principal or delegate can help teachers and school staff maintain good voice health by:

  • ensuring that induction includes information on voice care, including by distributing the voice care guidelines available and displaying the associated poster (DOCX)External Link
  • implementing classroom acoustic management strategies to reduce overall noise levels, such as replacing noisy floor surfaces with carpets or improving sound insulation to lower noise levels from external sources
  • providing amplifiers such as microphones, megaphones or loud hailers if appropriate for the situation such as sports carnivals or school assemblies
  • leading a culture where there are regular discussions regarding health, safety and wellbeing at meetings, such as health and safety committees and staff meetings, and creating a safe space for staff to raise concerns
  • encouraging teachers to report issues early and seek help for any concerns with their voice.

Teachers and school staff can maintain voice health by:

  • warming up your speaking voice with 5 minutes of breathing, laryngeal relaxation and humming exercises – refer to the Voice Care Guidelines (DOCX)External Link for more information
  • developing classroom management strategies that reduce the need to continuously raise your voice or the amount of time that is needed to speak
  • arrange the classroom environment and learning activities to encourage calm learner behaviour with an appropriate noise level using non-verbal means to gain attention such as clapping, using a bell or blowing a whistle (refer to the department’s Behaviour – Students policy for further advice)
  • talking to groups or classes when the students are quiet
  • planning the day to include periods of rest for the voice
  • developing behaviour management strategies that don’t involve raising your voice
  • turning down or ceasing background noise such as radios, televisions, speaker systems, machinery or other plant or equipment
  • moving away from sources of noise when talking
  • using voice amplifiers such as microphones, megaphones or loud hailers if appropriate for the situation such as sports carnivals or school assemblies
  • drinking water regularly throughout the day as staying hydrated provides lubrication to the vocal cords
  • sitting or standing with good posture when speaking – refer to the voice care guidelines for more information
  • breathing deeply into the abdomen with a quicker inhalation and slower exhalation – refer to the voice care guidelines for more information
  • avoiding or limiting caffeine or throat clearing which can have damaging effect
  • reporting issues early and seeking help for any concerns with your voice.

School staff can access the Voice Care Guidelines (DOCX)External Link which provide further information on relevant controls for staff to protect their voice and prevent the development of longer-term voice problems. The guidelines include self-assessment tools and action planning guidance, and detailed information on:

  • effective voice techniques
  • harmful voice habits
  • maximising physical and emotional health
  • considering the physical environment.

School staff are encouraged to engage with the school leadership when working through the voice care guidelines.

The principal or delegate, in consultation with school staff who are or are likely to be affected, and health and safety representatives (HSR), where elected, must record identified and implemented risk controls to manage areas/activities that may pose a risk to teachers’ voice health on the school’s OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link .

Regional OHS support officers and the OHS Advisory Service can provide support to schools on the use of the OHS risk register to document and monitor voice care risk and controls.

Includes information on avoiding or managing environments and activities that may pose a risk

Reviewed 24 November 2023

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