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Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002

Display Screen Equipment –Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I entitled to an eyesight test if I work on a VDU?

If you are a significant display screen “user” as defined in the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations you are entitled to an eye test, paid for by your employer. You will be a “significant user” if you habitually use a VDU as a significant part of your normal work.

Anyone who uses display screen equipment regularly for more than one hour continuously, i.e. without any breaks away from the screen, or anyone who uses the display screen for more than three hours in total in a normal day, is classed as a significant “User”.  If an employee has not previously been and then become a significant “User” they will be eligible for a free eye test.  This includes newly hired employees.

If this applies you can ask your employer to provide and pay for an eye and eyesight test and for further tests at regular intervals as recommended by your optometrist.

Does my employer have to pay for spectacles?

If you use a VDU as a significant part of your normal work, your employer has to provide an eye test if you request one but employers are only required to pay for spectacles if the test shows that special ones are needed for your VDU work and normal ones cannot be used. Only a small minority of people need special spectacles, which typically have prescription lenses for the intermediate distance at which the VDU screen is viewed.

Is Display Screen Equipment Safe?

Research indicates that the VDUs themselves are extremely unlikey to cause harm.  It is the way that they are used, or the stress induced by their use that causes injury or strain.  There is no evidence that VDUs damage the eyes but working with poor screens, glare or badly lighting may add to tiredness.  Problems can very often be avoided by good workplace design, allowing employees to work comfortably, and by good working practices (allowing employees to take frequent short breaks from the VDU, preventing at times to suit themselves).

There has been considerable public concern about reports of higher levels of miscarriage and birth defects among some groups of visual display unit (VDU) workers, in particular due to electromagnetic radiation. Many scientific studies have been carried out, but taken as a whole, the HSE takes the view that their results do not show any link between miscarriages or birth defects and working with VDUs. Research and reviews of scientific evidence will continue to be undertaken by the HSE.

Remember, if you have employees who are pregnant you must conduct a risk assessment to make sure that the job they are doing is still safe.

Additional Reading:

Quick Guide - DSE Workers - Employer's Guide
Quick Guide - Tips for VDU Users
Quick Guide - VDU Users - Frequently Asked Questions

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