Employers warned of duty of care towards employee eyesight

Employers warned of duty of care towards employee eyesight


As claims for eyecare drop during lockdown, increased screen time is blamed for deteriorating eye health among employees

Heath Shield was warned employers of their duty of care towards their employee’s eyesight as new research indicates that prolonged screen time during Covid lockdown is causing significant damage.

Recent research carried out by opticians Specsavers found that four out of 10 adults claiming that their eyesight had grown worse since the start of the Covid pandemic, while a study by Fight for Sight found 38% have seen a negative impact on their eyesight due to increased screen time during lockdown.

Health Shield revealed that eyecare claims on its Health Cash Plans, including appointments, glasses and lenses, have fallen by over one-quarter (28%) in 2020 compared to the previous year, as the pandemic has “dissuaded employees to keep-up with regular checks with their opticians.”

In response, the friendly society has moved to remind employers to urge their employees to maintain good eye-health, “especially where home or hybrid working is now long term or permanent.”

Health Shield stated that although it has recorded higher eyecare claims so far during 2021, there remains a risk that home-based eye tests requirements will not be a priority for most employers.

Jennie Doyle, head of marketing at Health Shield, said that the issue cannot be dismissed as one for the short-term, with a high level of staff expected to continue working home or remotely beyond the pandemic.

“It is a legal obligation for all employers in the UK whose employees use a screen for more than an hour a day to pay for eye-tests if the employee requests one. In addition, the Health & Safety Executive states that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from harm by completing risk assessments and acting on the findings,” Doyle said.

“For homeworkers these risks include lone working without supervision, working with display screen equipment (DSE), stress and mental health. Now more than ever, we urge employees to utilise this benefit, particularly if they have health cash plans where this will come as standard.”

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