Driver eye care – know your duty
When most employers consider staff eye care, more often than not they think of computer screens (or Visual Display Units). Unless you specifically recruit for driving jobs it is unlikely you will even think of your responsibility to ensure staff eye sight is up to the required DVLA standards. But if an employee is driving for business reasons and has an accident caused by poor eye sight, would you know the implications?
The debate on compulsory eye tests for drivers of commercial vehicles has continued for years, with no guidance yet as to where the responsibility lies. As such, only a small percentage of companies in the UK address driver eye care – leaving a huge percentage of employers open to potentially serious problems.
According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, 13 million drivers on the road do not have good enough eye sight to be driving without glasses – how many of these people work for you?
Whilst responsibility and regulation currently lies solely with employees, changes to the Health and Safety Regulations 1992 allow prosecution of employers from management failures if an accident ‘at work’ results in death.
This means that now a UK employer could be held accountable for a fatal accident caused by an employee whilst driving as a result of poor eyesight if management failures could be identified and proved.
What you can do
Many companies insist on seeing a valid driver’s license before allowing staff to drive on business, but the likelihood is this information will be years out of date. Managing an eye care scheme to ensure the eyesight of driving employees is tested regularly is the best way to ensure safe driving conditions.
There are three options available to do this:
- Reimbursement – rather than an upfront payment method, this requires employees paying for eye test and employers reimbursing them for the expense. Whilst this is a simple process, it will require staff to incur an initial cost and does not clarify the maximum amount covered by the employer.
- Single deal with opticians – through a direct relationship with an optician, employees will face no upfront costs. The optician chosen is likely to be close to the office allowing employees to take eye tests during lunch breaks – a more appealing option for busy staff. Be wary though of selecting opticians based on cost and location alone. Ensure the chosen optician can provide detailed information which covers driver eye sight.
- Eyecare vouchers – under this scheme employees are provided with eye care vouchers to redeem at participating opticians, allowing a wider choice to staff. This option also enables an employer to monitor the regularity of eye tests and identify any members of staff who may be driving without a recent eye examination.
To find out more download our free whitepaper Developing a Driver Eyecare Policy – Your options and Legal Obligations paper which takes you through what the regulations mean for employers like you, what you need to know about complying and what options are available to help meet your obligations.
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