Employers Being Short-Sighted When It Comes To Employee Eye Care

In Business, Employee Benefits, Healthcare by Stephen Ellis

Nine out of 10 British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their employees’ sight, a new survey shows.

According to the study commissioned by the charity Eye Health UK and Vision Express Opticians, 85% of office workers report suffering symptoms of screen fatigue, such as eyestrain and headaches, as well as problems with close and long-distance vision, following a typical day in the office.

Furthermore, almost one in five (18%) employees have been absent from work due to screen fatigue symptoms.

It’s not like there aren’t regulations in place either…

This despite employers having a legal obligation under Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations. Under the DSE regulations, an employer must protect its workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment, such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

In short, employers must:

  • Complete a DSE workstation assessment
  • Reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work or do something different
  • Provide an eye test if a worker asks for one
  • Provide training and information for workers

However, the study found that four in 10 businesses have no eye care policy in place, while fewer than half (49%) provide regular eye tests for employees. Furthermore, less than half (49%) actively encourage their employees to take deliberate breaks and pauses when carrying out ‘intensive screen work’ (as per DSE regulations).

90% of businesses failing in their duty

In other words, more than 90% of businesses surveyed are failing to meet their legal obligations when it comes to protecting their workforce’s sight. In particular, small businesses with between 50 and 99 staff are poor in this regard, with one quarter (26%) failing to meet a single one of the DSE requirements or providing any form of substitute care.

Speaking about the findings of the research, David Cartwright, optometrist and chairman of Eye Health UK, said: “Taking regular breaks during prolonged screen use is vital to keep your eyes healthy”.

In an attempt to boost awareness about the importance of eye care and help employers meet their DSE regulations, Eye Health UK and Vision Express are launching The Big Blink. It’s an initiative that will see 500 resource packs being sent to HR teams with guides and checklists to help implement robust eye care policies.

Employers can also visit The Big Blink Employers’ Resource Page to find out more information about caring for employees’ eye health.

But what has this got to do with income protection? It’s quite simple… if an increased use of computers has a damaging effect on an employee’s eyesight, there is a strong chance they will not be able to their jobs to the best of their abilities. Then, the chances of a reduction in productivity and absence also increase.

By taking simple measures to care for them you will see immediate and long term benefits for the business and employee.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.