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Folia Phoniatr Logop. 2004 Jul-Aug;56(4):220-53.

Occupational safety and health aspects of voice and speech professions.

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Phoniatric Department, University of Oulu, Oulu, and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


A well-functioning voice is an essential tool for one third of the labour force. Vocal demands vary to a great extent between the different voice and speech professions. In professions with heavy vocal loading (e.g. school and kindergarten teachers), occupational voice disorders threatening working ability are common. Vocal loading is a combination of prolonged voice use and additional loading factors (e.g. background noise, acoustics, air quality) affecting the fundamental frequency, type and loudness of phonation or the vibratory characteristics of the vocal folds as well as the external frame of the larynx. The prevention and treatment of occupational voice disorders calls for improved occupational safety and health (OSH) arrangements for voice and speech professionals. On the basis of epidemiological and acoustic-physiological research, the presence of risk to vocal health can be substantiated. From the point of view of the physical load on the vocal apparatus, loading-related physiological changes (adaptation) may play a role in the occupational risk. Environmental factors affect vocal loading changes. In teaching professions, the working environment is shared with children, who benefit from amendments of OSH legislation concerning their teachers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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