Employers need more help with DSE regulations

New research carried out by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare reveals that employers are in need of more information and support regarding Display Screen Equipment (DSE) eyecare regulations.

The independent research was carried out among 138 heads of companies with HR or Health and Safety remits, representing a total of between 185,083 and 349,802 employees. Companies of all sizes were polled, from SMEs to those employing 10,000 plus people, in both public and private sectors.

Less than half of employers fully understand the regulations

The Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations are extensive and complex, with many details being arguably subjective. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that less than half of all employers (47%) feel they fully understand the regulations.

Less than a third comply with the regulations

The research asked in detail about the provision made by employers. The results show that less than a third of companies and organisations (27%) meet the regulations by wholly funding DSE eyecare for employees.

The regulations state that the employer must fund eye examinations for all screen users and that, if it is found that glasses are required for DSE use, the employer must fully fund these too.* 

However, nearly half of employers (49%) merely offer a contribution towards DSE eyecare and a poor 10% expect the employee to wholly fund their own DSE eyecare.   Although the regulations state that non-essential requirements from employees such as for designer frames don’t have to be fully funded, the essential corrective frames and lenses do need to be when required solely for DSE use*.

A significant number of employers, 27%, are failing to comply with the regulations by not communicating their eyecare policy (or not having an eyecare policy to communicate), which is one of the stipulations of the legislation.

Employers are paying over the odds

For some, it may be the perceived cost that is putting them off fully complying with the DSE regulations. A staggering 81% of employers would expect to pay more than £20 for DSE eyecare. It will be surprising to many, therefore, that it is actually possible to purchase vouchers to cover both the full eye examination and glasses, if required for VDU use, for just £17. Indeed, over half of respondents (53%) stated they would expect to pay more than £50 for both the examination and glasses.

‘It is reasonable to suppose’ says Suzanne Randall, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, ‘that many employers are funding these higher cost solutions. This means that they will be paying well over the odds for DSE eyecare. Considering that 33% of the companies surveyed had over 1,000 employees and 10% had over 10,000 members of staff, the overspend, multiplied by these sorts of numbers, will be huge.’

Employers struggling to understand the full implications of the DSE regulations are encouraged to visit the HSE website and download the free guide: Working With Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s dedicated corporate account managers are also available to provide information and guidance. Visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate/contact-us.

* From The HSE Guidelines:

87 ‘Normal’ corrective appliances are at the user’s own expense, but users needing ‘special’ corrective appliances will be prescribed a special pair of spectacles for display screen work. Employers’ liability for the cost of these is restricted to payment of the cost of a basic appliance, ie of a type and quality adequate for the user’s work. Where bifocal or varifocal spectacles are prescribed as special corrective appliances (see caution at paragraph 83) the employer is required to meet the costs associated with providing a basic frame and the prescribed lenses.

88 If, however, users are permitted by their employers to choose spectacles to correct eye or vision defects for purposes which include the user’s work but go wider than that, employers need contribute only the costs attributable to the requirements of the job.

89 If users wish to choose more costly appliances (for example with designer frames, or lenses with optional treatments not necessary for the work), the employer is not obliged to pay for these. In these circumstances employers may either provide a basic appliance as above, or may opt to contribute a portion of the total cost of a luxury appliance equal to the cost of a basic appliance.