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Majority of employers failing to comply with eye care legislation

A fifth of workers cite screen fatigue as a reason for absenteeism

Nine in 10 British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their workforce’s sight, a survey shows.

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

Almost one in five (18%) employees have cited symptoms of screen fatigue as a reason for absenteeism.

The Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment (DSE) 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 or similar) at work in order to combat the visual stress associated with prolonged screen use.

However, four in 10 businesses report having absolutely no eye care policy in place, while regular sight tests are provided by fewer than half (49%) of employers, the study found.

Just 49% of employers provide “encouragement to take deliberate breaks and pauses when carrying out intensive screen work” as required by the DSE legislation.

David Cartwright, optometrist and chairman of Eye Health UK, said taking regular breaks during prolonged screen use is vital to keep eyes healthy.

The survey found medium-sized businesses employing between 50 and 99 staff are particularly poor when it comes to eye care in the workplace, with a quarter (26%) failing to meet a single one of the legislative requirements or providing any form of substitute care.