Introduction: Occupational noise exposure has been a subject studied for different professional activities. At call centers operators, it has also been referred as a health-hazardous risk factor.
Aim: Identify the presence of hearing loss in operators of an airline company call center in São Paulo, Brazil.
Methods: Cross-section and longitudinal epidemiological study has been carried out. The cross-section study considered the latest audiograms of 589 operators divided according to gender, age (18 to 30, 31 to 43, over 44 years old), and employment time (01 to 35, 36 to 60, over 61 months). The longitudinal study considered the audiograms of 387 operators who have been employed in the company for over 3 years, comparing the first and latest audiograms including the period between 1999 and 2006.
Results: Between the operators the female were the most common gender. The prevalence of hearing loss among the 589 operators was 6.0%, with 3.1% of Noise Induced Hearing Loss and 2.9% by other causes. For hearing losses, gender has not been associated (p>0.05). There was association for ages between 31 and 43 years old, and 41 and 55 years old, having been working in the company for over 61 months. In the longitudinal study, the comparison between the averages of each frequency and in both ears has shown a significant rise of threshold with the exception of 1KHz frequency in the right ear.
Discussion: This study among call center operators in the airline company showed hearing loss in several frequencies threshold. Noise-induced occupational exposure and the role of use of headsets by call center operators demand further, more detailed longitudinal studies to define the hearing and extra-hearing repercussions.