Research finds safety eyecare education is urgently needed
Published: 5 July 2012 - Heather Ramsden
Research commissioned by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare and carried out by Emedia has found that safety eyecare education is urgently required. The research was undertaken among health and safety professionals, from 143 companies, representing between 407,831 and 746,466 employee.
The findings were as follows: Over half (58%) of health and safety professionals are unable to correctly identify who can specify safety eyewear requirements for employees:
• 20% believe this can be carried out by the occupational health or HR manager.
• 23% believe this can be done by a high-street or specialist opticians.
• 16% either do not know or think it is up to the employee requiring safety eyewear to specify their needs.
• Just 42% of health and safety professionals were able to correctly identify that it is a qualified health and safety manager alone who can specify safety eyewear requirements for employees.
Only 14% of health and safety professionals knew the correct level of impact for which ‘normal’ spectacles are sufficient:
• While over half (51%) were incorrect in believing that normal spectacles are never sufficient, at least their misunderstanding errs on the side of caution. Although this means that employers will in some cases be funding unnecessary eyecare.
• 10% of health and safety managers are putting their employees’ eyesight at serious risk in the belief that ‘normal’ spectacles are sufficient for medium or high impact resistance.
• A staggering quarter (25%) simply didn’t know.
• In fact, normal spectacles are actually sufficient for low impact protection.
Over half (51%) believe employees remove safety eyewear due to lack of comfort or fit.
• A worrying 8% believe their employees do this on a regular basis.
Comfort and fit is very important for safety eyewear. Problems in this area may be due to various factors:
• Over one third (36%) of employees who wear spectacles for day-to-day use are not provided with prescription safety glasses but are instead expected to use over goggles. These are not suitable for long-term or regular use due to the physical discomfort of wearing two sets of eyewear and the light refraction caused by two sets of lenses.
• An enlightened 28% do provide prescription safety eyewear.
• Less than one third (32%) of employees receive their safety eyewear during an appointment for fitting with the optician. An important part of the supply of eyewear is ensuring that it is properly and individually fitted for comfort and purpose.
• Nearly a quarter (24%) receive their safety eyewear from their health and safety or HR manager.
•Only an optician can correctly fit safety eyewear for comfortable and reliable protection.
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: ‘Most health and safety managers at least know what they don’t know about safety eyewear and, as professionals, will seek advice and further information. It is clear from our research, however, that further education is required and that this would both reduce the risk to employees’ eyesight and may also be financially beneficial for the employer. The number of people regularly removing safety eyewear suggests that employee education policies may also need to be strengthened. ’