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Designer frames increase eyecare take-up 03/08/2018

Research revealed by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare suggests that offering designer frames increases take-up of eyecare benefits and reflects well on the company.

This may prove useful information for safety managers providing DSE eye care, safety eyewear and/or driver eye care. 

Undertaken among over 500 senior decision makers from companies across the UK, the research considered the aesthetics of glasses and the positive impact they could have on morale. Employers were asked their thoughts on providing employees with designer ranges of frames and were generally very positive about the idea.  

24% said it would make it a more valued benefit than offering non-branded frames and 30% said employees would welcome the opportunity to visit an optician offering designer frames.

25% thought it would increase take-up of eye care benefits, while 30% believed it would reflect well on them as an employer. Finally, 21% thought it would support employee engagement, and 15% already offer designer frames and said access was valued by staff.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: "Sourcing and providing eye care isn’t just a tick-box exercise; eye care may be one of the more affordable provisions but letting employees know the extent of the offering can significantly increase how much it’s valued."

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s range of glasses suitable for DSE use and driving are available in a wealth of different designer options, from Converse to Kylie Minogue, and Pierre Cardin to Will.i.am. 

A simple DSE eyecare eVoucher from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare costs the employer £17. This offers the employee an eye test and complete pair of glasses, if required solely for DSE use, from the £45 range. Alternatively, they can use this as a contribution worth £65 towards designer frames.

The JCB range of prescription safety glasses was launched by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare last year. Styled to reflect a modern, tough, sporty look that is so popular in sunglasses designs, the new frames are hard to equate with traditional safety glasses.

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Eyecare tool 01/06/2018

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has updated its website, increasing its use as an eye care tool for employers.

The new site is designed to be more intuitive and user-friendly and enables employers to quickly and easily access information and tools to assist with managing workplace eye care.  
 
There is an FAQ section, with details answering common queries regarding DSE regulations and eye care, safety eyewear, and driver considerations. It also includes concise information on the eVoucher system for online management of all areas of workplace eyecare.
 
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “We are very much aware that our website is far more than just an online brochure. It is an eye care management tool and we wanted to ensure that it offers the best customer journey and experience. We have made a clearer path for the eVoucher login and simple routes to follow for guidance and information for employers and their employees alike. We play an important role in educating people about workplace eye care and it is essential that our website reflects and enables this.”
 
Ranges, resources and appointments
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has updated its website in order to communicate new developments and important information. For example, the site acts as a showcase for the many designer ranges and high-street-name brands that Specsavers offers to employees, including with all 24 designs in the JCB prescription safety glasses range, for customers to view before trying-on in store. There is a selection of materials available to download for free, from posters encouraging take-up and communicating to employees the value of the eye care provided, to guides on DSE eye care and driver eye care, which are a useful reference for HR and benefits managers. It is also now possible for employee to book appointments online, saving them time.
 
Online management and eVouchers
The website acts as a portal to the eye care management system, where eVouchers can be purchased, distributed, and managed, maximising efficiency for employers and their employees. Real-time redemption reports are available online for all vouchers, and the entire process can be completely paperless, with vouchers emailed directly to employees, who can even redeem them at their preferred Specsavers store using their smartphone. There is no extra cost for the eVouchers or the supporting management system.

 Visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate
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Protecting the eyes from sun exposure 22/05/2018

Employers are generally well aware of the need to protect their employees’ eyes from hazardous substances and flying objects, but there is a threat to eyesight that is far more prevalent in almost all employees’ lives – the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun can cause short- and long-term eye damage including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, explains more

The eyes are just as vulnerable as the skin to damage from the sun (The Skin Cancer Foundation, Australia). Excessive exposure to the sun can cause a painful sunburn-like inflammation of the cornea at the front of the eye. This can greatly increase the risk of developing more serious, even sight-threatening, conditions in the future. 

The sun’s damaging power is increased by glare, which occurs when UV rays are intensified as they reflect off shiny surfaces such as glass. It is important to protect the eyes from the sun while working and driving, as well as when relaxing outside of working hours.

Dangers from the sun can be reduced by polarised lenses, which use a layer of iodine crystals to absorb the glare. Non-polarised sunglasses will only have a minimal effect, even though they will reduce the amount of visible light. Cheap sunglasses may cause the pupil to dilate, actually increasing the amount of UV light filtering into the eyes. High-quality sunglasses will also protect the delicate skin surrounding the eyes.

Age-related macular degeneration 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular damage and is currently a leading cause of sight loss in the developed world (www.macularsociety.org/types-macular-condition). It occurs when a person’s retinal cells die off and are not regenerated, causing visual impairment and, in some cases, blindness. 

Numerous factors can increase the risk of developing the condition, including smoking, a poor diet, and genetics. Overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays is also a key contributor.

AMD affects more than 600,000 people across the UK and it is crucial that people ensure they are wearing sunglasses, or UV-blocking contact lenses, particularly throughout the summer months, to protect against the harmful exposure.

Role of employers

Sunglasses may not be the first thought for employers regarding PPE, but they are a valid requirement for many employees who work outside or drive. Employers are in a position to be able to protect the eyesight of their employees while providing a cost-effective employee benefit. Sunglasses do not need to be expensive and may provide a small but highly-appreciated additional benefit. 

Sunglasses can be a particularly welcome benefit if employees are offered a choice of a wide range of styles, and even designer options can prove affordable. Purchasing sunglasses from a reputable optician will not only mean that they offer the required sun protection, but sunglasses are also often available with prescription lenses.  

Choosing wisely

It is important that sunglasses are not purely a fashion statement. Sunglasses without an adequate UV rating can actually cause more damage than not wearing sunglasses at all. 

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare offers the following guidance for finding the right pair of sunglasses and ensuring the eyes are protected:

  • Check sunglasses comply with BSEN 1836: 1997, or bear the CE kite mark and are marked UV 400
  • Dark sunglasses do not necessarily provide more UV protection
  • Polarised lenses decrease the amount of glare, which can dazzle and strain vision. This can be particularly important for those with working roles requiring high levels of concentration 
  • The larger the lens, the more protection they will give the eyes as there is less chance that light will filter in through the sides
  • Ensure sunglasses fit properly. They should not be able to slip off or have a tight strap that digs into the head
  • Invest in photochromic lenses – such as the Specsavers Reactions lenses that instantly adapt to light changes, darkening in bright light. Alternatively, have prescription lenses tinted to minimise the amount of UV rays that reach the eyes.

Take advice

An optician is there to provide advice on all aspects of eyecare and not just to provide glasses for those with visual difficulties. Opticians will be best placed to advise on the type of sunglasses for the employee’s needs in terms of protection, comfort and appearance. They may even offer to check the amount of UV protection being offered by the employee’s existing sunglasses, so make the most of the help and information available. 

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Employers still providing over-goggles 04/05/2018

Research from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare reveals that over half (54%) of employers still provide safety over-goggles to those who wear everyday glasses.

The wearing of goggles on top of glasses can cause an increase in light reflection between the two sets of lenses, which can impact the quality of vision. There is also an issue of physically wearing two sets of appliances, which can feel awkward and uncomfortable. 
 
The solution to this issue is to provide prescription safety eyewear but the research shows that 29% of employers offer non-prescription safety eyewear only. Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘For many years, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s research has shown that discomfort results in employees being more likely to remove safety eyewear when it is not safe to do so. Over-goggles may be considered appropriate for short and occasional visits to areas where PPE is required. However, any employee who needs to wear their everyday glasses to comfortably carry out their working role and who requires safety eyewear on a regular basis, would benefit hugely from the provision of prescription safety eyewear.’
 
Safety by design

Although the main feature of any safety eyewear is of course the protection it provides, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has again proved that the appearance of safety eyewear is also significant. Over two-thirds (67%) of employers felt that the design of safety eyewear was important in that a more modern and appealing design would make employees more likely to wear it. Nearly a third (35%) said attractive design would mean employees would be much more likely to actually wear it.
 
Extensive reach

The research went on to ask employers about their provision of eye care for those who require protective eyewear. Less than half (47%) of respondents whose employees require safety eyewear also offer eye examinations. ‘While there is no obligation under the health and safety regulations for employers to provide an eye test linked to the provision of safety eyewear, this may be a little short-sighted, if you’ll forgive the pun,’ said Jim Lythgow. ‘A full eye examination can help with the detection and monitoring of many serious wider health conditions, like diabetes, risk of stroke, heart conditions, some cancers and thyroid problems, to name just a few. In addition to helping to ensure employees have the most accurate vision in the workplace, an eye test could also help with ailments like headaches and eyestrain which, although more minor, can affect the productivity and performance of an employee.’
 
Providing employees with prescription safety glasses, and an accompanying eye examination, could, therefore, provide positive benefits for the employee and employer alike.
 
Visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate

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JCB safety eyewear range 31/03/2017

JCB’s brand is synonymous with quality, safety and durability; and these attributes are reflected in Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s new range of JCB prescription safety eyewear.  

A total of 20 JCB frames are available, offering a variety of options, from diverse designs and styles, to greater colour combinations, and different frame sizes, in men’s, women’s and unisex designs.

The frames are available in metal and polycarbonate, with a wide choice of lens materials, depending on the requirements of the specific work activity, and so are suitable for a large range of industrial settings. Each lens has undergone a variety of safety tests and the frames all have side shields, which include the JCB brand.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘We have subjected more than 440 pairs of prescription safety glasses to extremely rigorous tests. As you would expect from Specsavers and JCB – these glasses are tough! We are also really pleased with the aesthetics of the range.’

The frames are available through the Specsavers Corporate Eyecare eVoucher scheme, where eyecare can be easily purchased and managed online. Code: HSM0317.

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Eyecare: are your workers covered 100%? 01/02/2017

If there is a need for safety eyewear in a particular area of the factory floor, for a particular role, safety managers are erring on the side of caution and making the entire factory floor a safety eyewear zone. Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare suggests that this precaution has an impact on the procurement of safety eyewear.

Eye and eyesight protection is arguably one of the most important aspects of PPE. Indeed, eyesight is so valuable that there is now a growing trend towards 100% safety eyewear in areas that are deemed hazardous. It has always been important that eye protection is comfortable but extended wear means that comfort and fit must be given even greater precedence, for a greater number of people. We have undertaken research over many years which has shown that people are likely to remove safety eyewear, when it is not safe to do so, if it is not well fitting and comfortable. The solution to this problem is quite simple: to allow employees the opportunity to actually try on different styles of safety eyewear and to have eyewear professionally fitted.

Choosing safety eyewear from a catalogue or online is not ideal. No-one expects everyday glasses wearers to all wear the same style and to buy their glasses without trying them on. We don’t believe this should be any different when the glasses are actually there to protect eyesight.

Professional fitting of safety eyewear is a quick and simple process, which is generally cost-free. It is designed ensure that the safety eyewear fits correctly round the temples and across the bridge of the nose. Badly fitting safety eyewear may not only be uncomfortable but may also not fully provide the necessary protection from impacts.

With 100% safety eyewear policies in place, using over goggles for glasses wearers is unlikely to ever prove the best solution. Quite apart from the light refraction caused by two sets of lenses, is the issue of the discomfort caused by wearing two sets of eyewear. Prescription safety eyewear is likely to be the best solution in the majority of cases.  

A policy of 100% safety eyewear may actually have further benefits over and above safeguarding vision from possible chemicals, sparks or flying objects. While it is not obligatory for employers to provide an eye examination prior to providing safety eyewear, not doing so could result in a new prescription being required very soon after new eyewear has been provided, which makes little financial sense.

Far beyond an added bonus, a full eye examination can have huge additional benefits. Using special optical cameras, the optometrist is able to view the blood vessels at the back of the eye and can detect small changes that cannot be seen anywhere else in the body without invasive procedures. Certain changes can indicate cardiovascular disease. Thickening of the blood vessel walls, or narrowing of the vessels themselves, can restrict blood from reaching the retina - this may be indicative of high blood pressure. Spotting this is important as high blood pressure affects one in three adults but, in many cases, is symptomless.

These systemic conditions that can be detected through eye examinations also include such disorders as diabetes, raised cholesterol, arthritis, thyroid problems, multiple sclerosis and others. Of course, eye examinations can also detect a huge range of ocular conditions, including cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, ocular tumours, and more.

With the ability to detect so many serious illnesses and conditions, often before any symptoms become noticeable, a simple eye examination can have a big impact on health and wellbeing. This is turn, can have a positive impact on productivity.

Midland Aerospace is one such company that has adopted this approach for prescription safety eyewear. With the production team carrying out tasks like CNC machining and manual milling, fabrication, detailed assembly work, and paint preparation and application, it is vital that they have the appropriate safety eyewear. While it would technically be sufficient for Midland Aerospace to provide over goggles for those who wear glasses for everyday use, the company has chosen to provide prescription safety glasses, as these provide greater comfort.

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The new PPE Regulation – what employers need to know 04/07/2016

With the EU referendum result coming just a few weeks after the new EU PPE Regulation came into force, employers may now be wondering where they stand. Martin Lockton, regulatory affairs manager at Specsavers, provides some useful information.

It is expected to be two years until the UK leaves the EU, so until then, the message is ‘business as usual’. With this in mind, the fact that UK organisations will want to continue to trade with Europe, that the PPE market in the UK has been based on EU directives for a generation, and that our health and safety system is so successful – it is unlikely that much will change.

Therefore, the information for employers is as follows:

The Regulation replaces the previous PPE Directive, which had been in place for 25 years. PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 tightens up details, such as certification and the retention of technical files, to ensure better control of products on the market.

The new PPE regulation strengthens the details on the wider supply chain. There are now provisions for distributors and importers, and new rules for bespoke PPE. While the transition period is taking place, between the outgoing Direction and incoming Regulation, now is a good time for companies and organisations to review their PPE policy.

Timescales

  • 12 February 2016 - PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 adopted
  • March 2016 – Regulation published
  • April 2016 – Regulation listed in OJ (Official Journal of the European Union)
  • April 2016 to April 2018 – transition period. EC-type certificates to old PPE Directive can still be issued
  • 21 April 2018 – Old PPE Directive 89/686/EEC repealed. New PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 applies
  • April 2023 – Old EC-type certificates to PPE Directive become invalid

Importers and distributors

The new regulation widens the remit, putting the onus on everyone involved in the production and supply of PPE. Importers and distributors now have a responsibility for compliance and need the following:

  • Copy of the Manufacture’s Module B EU-Type Examination Certificate
  • Declaration of Conformity for the product handled
  • User instructions in the correct language
  • Records held for at least 10 years

Categories

Categorisation of PPE also changes under the new Regulation:

  • Category I – includes exclusively for minimal risks
  • Category II – risks other than those included in Categories I and II
  • Category III – includes exclusively the risks that may cause very serious consequences, such as death or irreversible damage to health

There are now additional and amended items under categories I and III. For example, rather than just listing sunlight (sunglasses), Category I now specifically includes exposure to sunlight (not observing the sun) and Category III now references high-pressure jets.

Declaration of conformity

One of the major changes is regarding the Declaration of Conformity to be made available with each product, either included with the PPE, or as a web link.

  • Making changes

Leaving the EU is unlikely to change anything in the foreseeable future so this is something that employers need to take on board. It will be important to start considering asking suppliers about when their products will be CE marked against the new Regulation. Employees may need to be reassured that their PPE conforms to the new Regulation. This also provides an opportunity for employers to consider their suppliers and to review and streamline their procurement processes.

For more information visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate

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Keep your eyes on the road... 07/04/2016

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, explores driver eyecare the power of the employer.

In 2014, there were 49,948 casualties on UK roads where a driver involved was travelling for work purposes. Of these, 547 people were killed and a further 5168 people were seriously injured. The total number of casualties from road collisions in 2014 was 194,477, meaning 25.7% involved professional drivers.

With these figures highlighting the dangers of driving for work, research by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has revealed the avoidable risk of employers neglecting the eyesight of professional drivers. Some 25% of employers have concerns that some of their drivers may not have adequate eyesight. In addition, more than half (54%) of employers admit to still not offering eyecare to any of their drivers.

While this may seem like worrying reading, there is at least a simple solution to ensuring that drivers have good enough eyesight for the task.

Simple solution

Despite some reticence in providing it, employers do seem to be aware that eyecare is the solution. Specavers’ research has shown that 59% of employers believe regular eyesight tests for employees who drive for work purposes would help to reduce collisions.

Changes in eyesight can occur gradually and this can mean that the individual may be unaware of any problems. It is recommended, therefore, that eyesight is professionally tested at least every two years. To ensure it is adequate for driving, the examination should not only check vision over distance but also check for defects such as problems seeing things in central or peripheral vision.

Known as visual field defects, such problems may be caused by illnesses including glaucoma, cataract or retinal disease. For driving, factors like the ability to switch focus between near and far objects, such as dashboard controls and the road, and the ability to cope with varying levels of glare, are important.

Money-saving

Aside from the emotional cost of collisions, the research asked employers what they thought an accident could cost the business in terms of things like sick pay, temporary cover, legal expenses, lost time, etc. A third of employers (33%) said they thought this would be in excess of £5000 and 85% believed is could cost more than £1000. With specifically tailored Driver Eyecare available from just £35 per employee, the figures speak for themselves.

Furthermore, 61% of employers said they thought that testing the eyesight of employees who drive, would save the business or organisation money overall. This is a significant finding. Businesses will always have financial constraints but with so many making the connection between eyecare and reduced risk, and also between eyecare and reduced costs, it is hoped that many more businesses will be spurred into action.

Blanket cover

Health and safety regulations make it clear that as an employer has a duty of care regarding all ‘at work’ activities, driving is most certainly also an area of responsibility. This means that the employer must take appropriate steps with regards to the safety of drivers whether it is a professional driver, a delivery person perhaps; someone who spends a great deal of time on the road, like a salesperson; or someone who is usually office-based but is attending a one-off training course or popping to the local post office. This is one of the reasons why implementing a low-cost blanket scheme is often the best option.

In addition, employers are required to provide eyecare for all ‘screen users’, under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations. With drivers and screen users requiring corporate eyecare, there cannot be a great deal of employees left in the workforce who are not entitled to eyecare. Employers are likely, therefore, to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to single out the few that are not entitled, and may be better off with a policy of inclusion.  

Leading the way

Specsavers has worked closely with road safety charity, Brake, for many years. Brake categorically states that ‘poor vision increases your risk of crashing’. With so many employers worried that employees may have inadequate eyesight for driving, it is clear that something needs to change. Employers have an important role to play. They are in a unique position to be able to make a real difference to society as a whole.

What is needed, however, is further education. Employers need to fully understand the risks in order to work to reduce them. They also need to appreciate the cost factors involved. Working together with eyeare experts, employers have the power to make a change that will be positive for their employees, for the business, and for the wider community.

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Changes 28/01/2016

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, discusses the new PPE regulations and warns: "Be aware, but ensure you wear."

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 implemented into UK law the provisions of the Council Directive 89/686/EEC. As a Directive, 89/686/EEC set out the objectives for countries in the EU to achieve, in their own way, certain provisions.

More than 10 years later, and two decades since the PPE Directive was first adopted by the European Council, the PPE rules are now due to become reclassified by the EU as a regulation – a binding legislative act that must be applied precisely by each EU member country. The aim of the changes is to bring the PPE rules up to date and in line with other Directives that have recently undergone revisions.

The PPE Regulations lay down in law the conditions governing personal protective equipment placed on the market. The current situation is that the focus is upon the manufacturer. This is expected to change when the new regulations come into force. They are likely to be effective over the whole supply chain, including manufacture, supply and distribution. Anyone involved in the chain will, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure the PPE meets the prescribed standards. It will be worth the while of safety managers in becoming acquainted with the new regulations, so that they can be sure that their suppliers are meeting the new standards of certification.

Safety managers should be careful to note the difference between the PPE Regulations being discussed here, which govern the certification of PPE items provided, and the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992. The latter govern the employer’s role in ensuring that the appropriate PPE is provided, where required, and that it is given under adequate instruction and with suitable maintenance. Essentially, it is the difference between ensuring the PPE supplied is of the correct standard, and ensuring it is correct for the workplace role.

With many new technologies now being involved in bringing PPE to market, the updating of the PPE rules aims to reflect these. The new regulation is currently in draft form, having already been approved by the European Commission and Parliament. It is now with the European Council, awaiting final agreement on the wording. The standard process is that, once agreed at European Council level, the final text will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (the OJ). Once it has appeared there, just 20 days will remain until it comes into force. Having originally been expected to appear in the OJ in summer/autumn 2015, the final wording still has no definite date for publication. It is, however, now anticipated in quarter one of 2016.

Once the final regulations have been made public, and the 20 days have elapsed, the new PPE Regulation will officially be in force. This does not mean, however, that changes will be seen immediately. While the industry must be fully aware of the new expectations, there will be a transition period of two years, with full enforcement not expected until around the end of 2018. At that point, existing PPE certificates, held by manufacturers, will expire.

For now, manufacturers and safety managers alike must sit and wait. While the wording agreed by the European Commission and Parliament was fairly prescriptive, with details of changes of category for some protective items, and information on declarations of conformity; none of this is yet definite. The industry must hold fire on any changes and continue to consult the OJ for updates. With the legislation little changed in the last 20 years, the new regulations are likely to be both keenly awaited and much required.

While the certification of PPE is clearly vital, safety managers are urged to consider that this is what makes PPE items like safety eyewear standard. The other elements that may be equally important in the provision of safety eyewear are those aspects that make them different. Part of what makes PPE fit for purpose is, by very definition, its fit. Employers and safety managers would be wise to ensure that their supplier not only (of course) meets with the legal certifications and specifications, but also that they are able to provide a wide range of products, to meet the wide range of employees who will wear them. Being able to physically try on and individually chose items like safety eyewear is an important stage in the procurement process. After all, even PPE manufactured to the absolute highest of quality and safety standards, is of no use if it is uncomfortable and, therefore, not actually worn.

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PPE regulations set to change 04/11/2015

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive 89/686/EEC, which is more than 20 years old, is being updated to reflect the new technologies that are now employed in bringing PPE to market.

The draft version of the Regulation has already been approved by the European Commission and Parliament. The European Council is currently reaching final agreement on the wording of the Regulation, which is due to be printed in the OJ (Official Journal of European Union) at the end of January 2016. The Regulation is due to come into force in quarter one of 2016. A transition period will then take place in 2016 and 2017, with full enforcement of the PPE Regulation by the end of 2018.

Jim Lythgow, head of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: "Existing certifications for PPE, held by the manufacturers, will expire when the Regulation comes into force at the end of 2018. It is important, therefore, for employers and safety managers who procure PPE, to ensure that their providers will be able to meet with the new certification, otherwise employees will not be covered."

While the previous PPE Directive put the emphasis on the manufacturers, the new Regulation will be effective over the entire supply chain. Anyone involved in the supply and distribution chain will have to take appropriate measures to ensure the PPE meets with the standard requirements.

Previously a ‘Directive’ – this is a legislative act setting out objectives for EU countries to achieve in their own way, by a certain date; the requirements will be reclassified as a PPE ‘Regulation’ – this is a binding legislative act, which must be applied precisely across the EU.

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