A situational analysis of visual ergonomics and ocular symtoms among call centre agents: city of Tshwane call centres
Tamenti, Gloria Tsholofelo
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Introduction: The large municipalities or metros in South Africa are currently using call centres as a tool to deliver public services and provide access to public information. These call centres utilise computers, which are visually demanding. The aim of the study was to investigate the visual ergonomics of call centres and describe the working conditions in call centres, as well as estimate the prevalence of ocular symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome among call centre agents in the City of Tshwane call centres. Method: A cross-sectional, quantitative survey and observational study design was used to collect data among call centre agents. Data on demographics, occupation and ergonomics, visual information, as well as messages on symptoms experienced during and after computer work and ergonomics were gathered. Workstation measurements were taken, which consisted of viewing distances between computer screens and the eyes of the call centre agents as well as calculated viewing angles. Results A total of 175 call centre agents, aged between 21 and 63 years, participated in this study. The call centre agents were predominantly female (69%). About 62% of participants worked more than 8 hours per day and 38% worked 7-8 hours per day. All participants used desktop computers. Most participants (58%) spent more than 8 hours per day working on their computers during their working shift. Sixty three percent (63%) worked in a room with windows and 37% in a room without windows. The participants (90.29%) took breaks of 8.2 minutes on average in between work other than meal breaks. Most participants (61.7%) worked at further viewing distances from their computers than the recommended distance of 50-70cm. The examiner observed that 58% of participants had the centre of the computer at eye level. The mean viewing angle was 18.17 degrees. The mean room illumination for the three (3) call centres was 90.04 lux, which is notably below the recommended average of 350 lux. The most common ocular symptoms reported by the participants were tired, strained eyes (95.43%), increased sensitivity to light (83.43%), burning eyes (82.86%) and itchy eyes (82.86%). Musculoskeletal symptoms were reported, such as backache (89%), shoulder ache (87%), neck pain (84%) and neck stiffness (84%). The prevalence of ocular symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome was 69.66%. A higher prevalence of ocular and musculoskeletal symptoms occurred among participants who worked more than 8 hours and those who worked at a viewing distance of 71-90cm. Conclusion There is a need for appropriate lighting and the redesigning of workstations in the call centres of the City of Tshwane. This will help to reduce the prevalence of ocular and musculoskeletal symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome.