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Covid19 and Call Centre Workers in Danger

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Dear all,

I know many many brave folk putting their lives on the line for us.

Recent reports from call centres are particularly disturbing - issues of no social spacing, no PPE, hot dealing, poorly functioning heating and ventilation air con systems. Unnecessary risks. I’ve Campaigned for 25 years to improve office H&S. This is so so serious - appalling stories. We need hard data to make a difference. People will die needlessly. I’ve designed an online survey for call centre workers to complete. 2300 complete so far. We need more to make a strong case to keep people safe and home working. 

Please please complete if you work n a centre or back office and   Pass on the those who do. Totally confidential. 

https://phil.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/covid19-call-centre-back-office-workers_savelives

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6 hours ago, psv_killie said:

Well done you sir! 

I'm fortunate enough to be working from home. Hope this helps you gather the data that is needed 

Please forward if you can to those who are still In these death traps. Thanks. 

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On 4/15/2020 at 11:46 PM, psv_killie said:

Well done you sir! 

I'm fortunate enough to be working from home. Hope this helps you gather the data that is needed 

Would you line to post the intermediate findings? I did a 2 all nighters to get the report done in time for Workers Memorial Day. It is scary s**t. So leased you can work from hone? 

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Not trying to be overly critical, but how do you manage participant motivation bias when your survey wording and topic is so partisan? 

Edited by virtuocity

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On 4/30/2020 at 6:44 PM, virtuocity said:

Not trying to be overly critical, but how do you manage participant motivation bias when your survey wording and topic is so partisan? 

This is an important research methodological question that I am more than happy to talk through with you at some point. These issues were seriously considered before the survey launch. At the moment though I’m too busy trying to make a difference to spend much time explaining.
The survey is identifying workplaces of bad practice and particular clusters of reported problems - little or no social distancing, face to face contact, hotdesking, inadequate cleaning and sanitisation, heating and ventilation systems that are sub-optimal at best, lift occupancy etc. 
200,000 words of volunteered testimony confirm the worst problem areas. They make for grim reading. The evidence is being used in real time to make interventions that make improvements. Equally the survey is seeking to identify good practice especially homeworking that can be used as benchmark for raising the health and safety bar generally. 

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5 hours ago, carpetfitter said:

This is an important research methodological question that I am more than happy to talk through with you at some point. These issues were seriously considered before the survey launch. At the moment though I’m too busy trying to make a difference to spend much time explaining.
The survey is identifying workplaces of bad practice and particular clusters of reported problems - little or no social distancing, face to face contact, hotdesking, inadequate cleaning and sanitisation, heating and ventilation systems that are sub-optimal at best, lift occupancy etc. 
200,000 words of volunteered testimony confirm the worst problem areas. They make for grim reading. The evidence is being used in real time to make interventions that make improvements. Equally the survey is seeking to identify good practice especially homeworking that can be used as benchmark for raising the health and safety bar generally. 

No worries.  I’m sure you’ll acknowledge the limitations in your write-up.  However, I would have significant methodological concerns at this point.  Happy to be proven wrong when I read the study- keep going!

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There are different types of research for different purposes. action research e.g. Been at this game a long time. Done tons of surveys, supervise theses, publish articles, write books.etc so well enough acquainted with methodological issues. This a particular horse for a particular course. 

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2 hours ago, carpetfitter said:

There are different types of research for different purposes. action research e.g. Been at this game a long time. Done tons of surveys, supervise theses, publish articles, write books.etc so well enough acquainted with methodological issues. This a particular horse for a particular course. 

Neigh bother.  Hope it goes well.

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Record today:

Scots call centre staff fear catching Covid-19 from 'hazardous' hygiene working conditions

Hundreds of call centre workers across Scotland reported being in densely populated offices with slapdash social distancing, dangerous hot-desking and a lack of hygiene in vital shared facilities such as toilets

Three-quarters of Scottish call centre staff fear catching Covid-19 from “hazardous” working conditions, according to a shock report.

Hundreds of call centre workers across Scotland reported being in densely populated offices with slapdash social distancing, dangerous hot-desking and a lack of hygiene in vital shared facilities such as toilets.

Four in 10 said they were “terrified” to carry on working.

Nine in 10 workers in the report said they fear they will transmit Covid-19 to their friends or family and almost 70 per cent feel “management is more interested in profits than my health”.

One woman said she had to move out of the house as she lived with a “high risk” relative.

The special Scottish report was authored by Professor Philip Taylor of the University of Strathclyde who has spent 25 years researching employee experiences of working in call centres and was supported by the STUC and trade unions.

Prof Taylor said: “The evidence in this report emphatically reveals that Covid-19 is exacerbating previously existing health, safety and work-related problems and stress in call centres, this time to deadly effect.”

The report calls for an emergency conference in Scotland to discuss the issues raised.

He said the unsafe working environments should have compelled employers to allow staff to work from home – yet of the 65 per cent in centres who requested home working, fewer than six per cent were told they could.

He said: “Workers are currently facing serious hazards from Covid-19 that require urgent remedy. Social distancing is well-nigh impossible. This is a grave public health, as much as an occupational health, concern.

“The toxic mix of impossible social distancing, inadequate cleansing, hot-desking and the probable dangerous effects of HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditions] systems in open-plan, densely occupied offices makes home working a necessity.”

Of the 510 staff surveyed, 72 per cent were still in centres, with many being informed by text message or being left to simply assume it was business as usual.

And 80 per cent felt pressurised into coming to work due to fear of losing money and worry about being penalised by a poor attendance record. Three-quarters knew of colleagues who have developed Covid-19 and self-isolated.

Many are still subjected to performance reviews while facing increasing abuse from customers and concerns over personal concerns over the virus.

One telecoms worker said: “It is disgusting. People are terrified enough as it is to go in to work for non-essential working in an environment that is as dirty as it was before the outbreak just to turn a profit for a large company who could do without.

“People will come in and be told to pitch, pitch, until they’re blue in the face because managers and performance managers want to take as much advantage of a bonus as they can.”

In Scotland, emergency laws enforce social distancing measures at work, but more than a third of those in the report sit less than the recommended two metres from adjacent colleagues.

And 44 per cent are face-to-face with other agents or team leaders – 41 per cent of these are less than two metres apart and 87 per cent consider colleagues’ proximity “hazardous”.

A third have face-to-face team meetings or huddles and workers cannot avoid breaching social distance protocols when walking the floor, with seven in 10 viewing moving around the office floor, as ‘‘hazardous’.

This means workers stuck at their desks with six per cent not allowed outside for air, 11 per cent told to take their breaks at their work station and five per cent too scared to move about for fear of infection.

One worker said they were restricted to about eight minutes of toilet break per 7.5-hour shift and, as toilets can’t be shared, the queues are long and some staff said they had to make the time back or be disciplined.

Others said the nature of the job meant walking through offices up to 30 times a day to printers or to consult colleagues but only four per cent said they were given protective equipment.

Nearly half said management were “ineffective” in ensuring the sanitising of headsets, work stations, surfaces, toilets and lifts. Seven in 10 workers viewed toilet visits as “hazardous”, with one worker in an NHS call handling centre saying they were only cleaned every few days.

Others ran out of soap or hand towels and, to restrict access, some cubicles were taped off, leaving the ones left over used and dirtier than otherwise.

Almost 90 per cent feared that the HVAC on their floor would circulate droplets of virus and three-quarters feared not having a designated desk could lead to infection from Covid-19.

And three-quarters felt the same about their work station being used by others. Given some of the workers took calls on sales and other non-essentials, seven in 10 said they didn’t consider themselves key workers.

One woman said: “I sell premium bonds. I understand it essential to keep finance stable but I just don’t want to die for £9.30 an hour.”

But 60 per cent said customers had become more demanding and some a quarter said their targets were as tough as before, while 70 per cent still faced performance reviews.

The report is calling for problematic workplaces to “be evacuated and home working or furloughing fully implemented immediately”.

It recommends an immediate audit of Scottish call centres and risk assessments with full trade union involvement.

It also suggests that all call centre workers are tested and positive cases isolated and treated and contacts traced and appropriate actions taken.

 

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/coronavirus-shock-report-demands-immediate-22122672

 

 

 

 

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Record View:

"Urgent need for action over call centre workers safety must be heard

Record View says the bottom line is most of the foundations of social distancing simply cannot be met without big changes.

The UK is moving out of lockdown but there is strong evidence it’s moving too fast.

Thousands of Scots took advantage of the weekend sunshine and socialised with other groups for the first time in weeks.

But for call centre workers, the basic expectation of social distancing is still not being met.

A report suggests one in four fear catching Covid-19 because of bad conditions in their workplace. They described fears over hot desking, lack of hygiene and densely populated offices.

Nearly half are “terrified” and almost all worry they will transmit the potentially lethal virus to family and friends.

In a damning indictment, 70 per cent feel management is more interested in profit than workers’ health.

These findings, must not be ignored.

As we report today, there are shocking examples of what people are being told to put up with.

The bottom line is most of the foundations of social distancing simply cannot be met without big changes.

It’s not like terms and conditions were excellent to start with.

Call centre staff have been treated like second-class employees – while being told they are essential workers."

 

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/need-action-over-call-centre-22122809

 

 

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