What are an employer’s obligations when it comes to supplying glasses?
DSE (Display Screen Equipment) are devices or equipment that have an alphanumeric or graphic display screen and includes display screens, laptops, touch screens and other similar devices.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 apply to workers who use DSE for a significant part of their working day (e.g. daily, for an hour or more at a time) these people are known as ‘DSE Users’.
DSE users are entitled to an eye test if they request one, this should be a full eye and eyesight test by an optometrist or doctor, including a vision test and an eye examination.
The aim of providing eye tests for DSE users is to enhance their comfort and efficiency by identifying and correcting vision defects, thus preventing eye strain – to complement
provision of a good working environment. There is no reliable evidence that work with DSE causes permanent damage to eyes or eyesight, but it may make users with a pre-existing vision defect more aware of the problem.
The arrangements you make to provide eye and eyesight tests is up to you. For example, some employers let users arrange tests for themselves (and give the employer the bill); others prefer to send all their staff to be tested by one optician or provide vouchers. How often the tests should be repeated is recommended by the optometrist based on the results of the test but if often 2 years.
Employers are only liable for the cost of a basic pair of glasses if the results of the DSE eye test show they need corrective glasses/other appliance that are prescribed for the use of DSE. If they already have a normal prescription that is suitable for the DSE work you do not need to pay for them.
If a user wishes to choose more costly appliances (for example with designer frames, or lenses with optional treatments not necessary for the work), you are not obliged to pay for these. In these circumstances employer’s may either provide a basic appliance, or may opt to contribute a portion of the total cost of the more expensive appliance equal to the cost of a basic appliance.
Anti-glare screens, so-called ‘tinted VDU spectacles’ and screen devices that purport to protect against radiation are not ‘corrective appliances’ and there is no obligation to provide them.
Don’t forget eye tests for DSE users must be provided if the employee requests one, you do not have to provide them outright to all employees.