Potential risk: Lack of eyecare for employees who drive

  • Just 16% of employers have eyecare for all drivers
  • Less than half are confident that employees can see adequately to drive

Employers are putting their employees and their company reputation at risk by not providing eyecare for employees who drive. This is according to research revealed today by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

The figures show that less than a third of employers (28%) have an eyecare policy for any of their drivers and just 16% have an eyecare policy for all drivers. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 makes it clear that employers have a responsibility for their drivers. The act requires employers to: ‘take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle.’ [1]

The employer’s duty of care refers, therefore, to all drivers, whether they are employed specifically to drive as a main part of their role, or whether they are attending an occasional meeting. The research shows, however, that of those employers who provide driver eyecare, many only do so for those performing certain driving roles, employees of a specific age, or those driving over a particular number of miles.

Moreover, less than half (47%) of employers surveyed were confident that their employees could see adequately to drive, stating they did not worry that some of their drivers may not have good enough eyesight for driving. Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘It is alarming that employers who are confident of their employees’ eyesight are in the minority. While many may wrongly assume that it is the individual’s responsibility alone to ensure their eyesight is adequate for driving, the HSE makes it quite clear that driving safety becomes a joint responsibility when driving for work purposes. With eye tests being so easily available and cost-effective, we would urge all employers to implement an eyecare policy for all drivers.

Jim Lythgow continued: ‘Aside from the emotional cost of any collision, an accident is likely to be expensive for a business, in terms of uninsured losses such as sick pay, temporary cover, legal expenses, lost time, increased premiums, etc. When also considering the risk to the business’s reputation of not having ensured the employee had adequate eyesight, to apply a blanket eyecare policy seems like the obvious thing to do.’

Figures from the Department for Transport show the level of risk for at-work drivers: at least one third (31%) of fatal collisions and a quarter (26%) of serious injury collisions in Britain involve someone driving for work.[2] Road safety charity, Brake, points out, however, that this is likely to be a substantial underestimation as journey purpose is not always recorded and, unlike other work-related incidents, deaths and injuries caused while driving for work are not reported to the HSE. 

For more information about driving for work, the risks, responsibilities and eyecare solutions, and to download a free Driving Eyesight Toolkit for employers, please visit: www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate/drivers

Notes

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/roadsafety/employers.htm
[2] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2014

The research was conducted on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare by eMedia in May 2016, among 106 heads of UK companies, representing between 255,156 and 434,106 employees.