School teachers are one of the largest groups of professional voice users world-wide. Your voices are your primary tool of trade, your main mode of communication in the classroom and one of your most powerful assets. Teaching, however, places many demands on your voice. Talking extensively, talking loudly, speaking over background noise, and speaking and projecting your voice over large distances in the playground or on the sports field are just some of the vocal pressures you confront every day. Because of these vocal demands, teachers are at increased risk for developing voice problems. Fortunately, it is not difficult for most teachers to avoid voice problems and for you to have an effective voice for your entire teaching career and beyond.
Relevant sections of the OHSMS
Where/when would these issues be relevant?
- Open plan classrooms
- Areas with poor insulation from external noise (e.g. thin walls or partitions, poor fitting doors or windows)
- Environments with floor, wall or ceiling surfaces which cause sound reverberation (i.e. hard surfaces such as lino, ceramic or vinyl tiles, concrete, timber)
- Environments with high levels of background noise (internal or external)
- Outdoor settings
- Swimming pools
- Environments requiring you to talk or project your voice over large distances
What do you need to do?
A comprehensive Voice Care Program (pdf - 1,006.64kb) has been developed to help teachers look after their voices and to prevent the development of voice problems which may limit their effectiveness as teachers. Although the program materials are directed mainly at individual teachers, the program's success will be highly dependent on the extent to which the school management team works towards creating a whole school environment that is conducive to healthy voice use. The degree of support and encouragement that is provided to staff by the management team will be an important contributor to the success of the Voice Care Program (pdf - 1,006.64kb). The following resources address the issues associated with vocal health and provide measures to reduce vocal problems.
Legislation, guidance and Codes of Practice
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715
Voice Care for Teachers A3 Poster (pdf - 412.35kb)
Voice Care Australia