Half of Ireland not complying with health and safety eyecare rules

August 2012

A major new survey of businesses across the Republic of Ireland has revealed that half of the country’s employers are not complying with basic health and safety regulations for employee eyecare.

The survey, commissioned by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, has uncovered that 49% of employers are not providing company-funded eyetests, contrary to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations regarding Display Screen Equipment.

The survey suggests that misconceptions regarding costs may be a barrier to employers providing even the obligatory care. Only 7% of employers were able to estimate the correct cost of both an eye examination and spectacles, available for less than €20. With over two thirds (68%) wrongly believing an eyetest and spectacles to cost over €50 and nearly one third (31%) believing the cost to be over €100, it is not surprising that employers are not keen to provide company-funded eyecare.

A further lack of understanding of what is available may be compounding the problem. Of those organisations that do offer company-funded eyetests to screen-users, nearly half (47%) reimburse via expenses and over a third (35%) have no formal administration system in place. Costs for eye tests and corrective spectacles can vary hugely between opticians. An employer who does not have any eyecare policy in place or who does not stipulate their chosen provider may be leaving themselves open to an unexpected and costly invoice. An enlightened 12% of employers use eyecare vouchers, enabling them to offer consistent care at an established low cost, with virtually no administration.

Despite it being compulsory to offer eye tests to screen-users and to provide glasses required for VDU work, it is still possible for this obligation to also be regarded as a benefit. There are many added extras available alongside the obligatory care. These can, however, only be of benefit if employers are aware of their availability and communicate this to their employees.

The survey found that three quarters (75%) of employers did not know of any additional financial benefits available at no extra cost with corporate eyecare vouchers. Only 15% were aware of discount vouchers with money off glasses for employees and just 4% knew that these discounts are also available for employees’ friends and family. Only 15% were aware that those receiving company-funded eyecare are still eligible for two-for-one deals and only 2% knew that they are entitled to free upgrades, such as reactions lenses or designer frames.

Dona McLafferty, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in the Republic of Ireland, comments: ‘Over half (51%) of the employers we spoke to, who do not offer company-funded eye tests, still believe that their employees would value eyecare as much as other benefits, if not more. We believe, therefore, that it is the wrongly perceived cost of eyecare and a lack of knowledge of how to implement a scheme that is stopping employers from providing the proper care. We are determined to help employers to understand the availability of low-cost, highly-valued and easy to administer, eyecare. It is a legal requirement for eyecare to be provided to all screen-users in the workplace and we aim to break down the barriers to this provision.’

For detailed information about the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations regarding Display Screen Equipment, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has created an information and procurement tool. For a free copy of the ‘DSE Eyecare tool’, please call: 0818 275 664 or email: ie.corporateeyecare@specsavers.com.

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