Recent research has revealed the extent of the use of display screen equipment (DSE) in the workplace and related concerns regarding eyesight.
The research, carried out on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, surveyed over 1,000 employees.
It found that 85% of employees spend at least an hour a day using DSE for work purposes, and 73% spent at least four hours a day working with DSE.
Almost half of employees (48%) spent at least 7 hours a day at a digital screen – nearly their entire working day.
Women are likely to spend more time looking at screens for work purposes than men. Over 80% of women spend at least four working hours a day on DSE, compared to 69% of men, and 53% of women spend seven or more working hours a day looking at DSE, compared to 46% of men.
The use of DSE at work also decreases with age. Those under the age of 35 spent the most time using DSE, while those over 55 used it the least.
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Despite these figures, just 40% of employees stated they receive eyecare benefits from their employer, such as free or subsidised eye tests or glasses. A significant 10% of employees did not know if they received eyecare benefits and nearly half stated they did not receive any eyecare from their employer.
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, has emphasised the need for better communication: “The working hours people are spending in front of screens is, of course, likely to have increased over recent years but some employers may be surprised by quite how much time their employees now spend using DSE.
“This makes it more important than ever for employers to offer eyecare. It is a stipulation of the health and safety regulations that all screen users should receive company-funded eyecare and glasses, if required solely for DSE use.
“The fact that around half of employees state they do not receive such eyecare does not, however, necessarily mean it is not being provided. Communication is key here and it is vital that employers make employees aware of their entitlement and any eyecare that is available. In fact, it is even part of the DSE regulations that employers must not only fund eyecare but also communicate entitlement.”
The research went on to survey over 500 senior HR decision makers . Of these, 41% said they were concerned about employees’ eyesight as a result of their use of display screen equipment in their working role.
Linked to this, 45% of employers were concerned that employees spend too much time on display screen equipment in their working role – in other words, more time than is healthy for their eyes.
Jim Lythgow continued: ‘With the level of use of DSE in the workplace today, employers are bound to be concerned about their employees’ eyesight. Implementing a simple eyecare policy is not only obligatory under health and safety legislation, it can also have much wider benefits in terms of health, wellbeing, productivity and morale.
“The best way to achieve peace of mind is surely therefore to ensure a suitable eyecare policy is in place and to communicate the benefits widely to all employees.”