Eye care duties ‘not being met’

Nearly one in 10 British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their workforce’s sight, a new study commissioned by national sight charity the Eyecare Trust and healthcare provider Simplyhealth found.

“Screen fatigue” is regularly suffered by 90% of office workers, and the symptoms include headaches, sore or tired eyes, impaired colour perception and blurred vision. During their working life, the average office worker will spend 128,740 hours staring at a screen.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations place a legal obligation on all employers to make sure they care for the eye health of staff who regularly use a VDU (computer screen) at work in order to combat the visual stress associated with prolonged screen use.

There is no eye care policy at all amongst one in 10 businesses, while regular sight tests, which forms the most basic element of the legislation, are not provided by 44% of employers, the ScreenSmart study found.

Small businesses employing fewer than 10 people are the worst offenders. Absolutely no provision for eye care is provided by one in five (21%) small businesses, and the offer to pay for sight tests is only offered by a third, while three-quarters fail to ensure workstations are designed to minimise glare or reflections – two factors that can lead to screen fatigue and cause visual trauma.

When it came to big businesses, one in five (18%) did not meet the costs of regular sight tests, while two-fifths (40%) point blank refused to pay a contribution towards the cost of spectacles required solely for VDU work.

Our view: Businesses of all sizes should ensure they cover the basics and carry out display screen / workstation risk assessments and act on their findings. This is a simple and inexpensive process to set up and one of our health and safety advisors would be able to help. Call us for some complementary advice.

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posted on September 20, 2010
in Safety Management
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