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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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
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:
Categorisation of PPE also changes under the new Regulation:
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.
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
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
|Safety eyewear on trend||14/09/2015|
By Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.
The eyes are particularly vulnerable to injury, and eye protection is a commonplace requirement in a great variety of working environments. For many years, however, safety eyewear saw few changes. The basic requirements of PPE for the eyes is simply to provide a barrier to impact and regular goggles were often judged to deliver an adequate solution.
Probably one of the most significant changes in the field of eye protection is that it is now extremely rare for employees who need every-day glasses to be expected to wear over-goggles. While it is possible to wear safety goggles over everyday glasses, this is generally a poor solution not only due to the refraction caused by two sets of lenses but also because of the discomfort of wearing two pieces of eyewear.
Comfort and fit
The introduction of prescription safety eyewear was a big step in the comfort, protective fit and general wear-ability of eye protection. In the last few years, prescription eyewear itself has made several leaps forward in terms of comfort and fit. This is an important progression as a recent survey by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare revealed that a staggering 78% of employers worry that staff remove safety eyewear if it is not comfortable.
The changes that have improved the comfort and fit of safety eyewear relate to the glasses themselves and to the service received by customers. In 2012, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare introduced larger-sized frames. These were designed specifically to accommodate larger temple widths and to provide greater comfort for the wearer. In 2014, Specsavers added the first polycarbonate frame to its range. Previously, all of its prescription safety glasses had been made of metal. The polycarbonate frames have offered an alternative in style, comfort and durability, while still offering the same level of eye protection.
One of the more recent changes in the safety eyewear market has been the realisation of the importance of style. The function of safety eyewear will always be the overriding factor but employers are now beginning to realise that employees are more likely to wear their eye protection if they find it comfortable and like the way it looks.
The research showed that the vast majority of safety managers – a perhaps surprising 88% - attached importance to the aesthetics of safety eyewear. Linked to this, 91% said they believed that, when selecting a provider, it is important that they have a good range of eyewear from which to choose.
While it is still possible to order safety frames from a catalogue, the research showed that 87% of safety managers believe it is important to physically view and try on a range of safety glasses, in-store. They see the benefits of this as being the ability to try different styles for comfort and fit (73%), seeing the quality of the frames (55%), and feeling the weight (31%).
Professional fitting of safety eyewear is also high on the requirements from safety managers, with 82% stating the main benefit was ensuring a proper and safe fit around the temples, ears and across the nose.
‘Trend’ and ‘safety eyewear’ may not in the past have been two expressions often seen alongside each other but, there is no doubt that prescription eyewear is now more appealing, more wearable, comfortable and wide-ranging. There are now more choices of style, material and colour than ever before.
The dictionary definition of a ‘trend’ is a development or change in the way people are behaving. If the new designs and varieties of prescription safety glasses do – as is hoped and expected - result in a change in workplace behaviour and a trend for employees wearing and wanting to wear their eye protection, then it is certainly a change for the better.
|DSE: deliver; support; educate||06/02/2015|
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare will be promoting its recently launched eVouchers at The Health & Safety Event, NEC Birmingham 24-26 March 2015, Stand: H37. Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, looks at how the eVouchers can help employers comply with Health and Safety Executive legislation.
The Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations have been in force for more than 20 years, so why is it that they may leave so many employers confounded?
In discussion with employers, our corporate account managers have come across several issues: The regulations themselves are intricate. There are elements of the legislation that are subjective and open to interpretation. There are also cases of employers themselves misunderstanding the regulations.
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare wanted to consider not only the individual conversations it had with employers but also do some more quantitative research. An independent survey was carried out in September 2014 among 138 heads of companies, representing between 185,083 and 349,802 employees. Companies of all sizes were polled, from SMEs to those employing 10,000+ people, in both public and private sectors. The results backed up our account managers’ own conclusions, reveal that employers are in need of more information and assistance regarding DSE eyecare regulations.
Lack of understanding equals lack of compliance
Less than half of all employers (47%) felt they fully understood the regulations. Our research suggested only around a quarter (27%) of organisations may comply with the regulations by fully funding DSE eyecare for their employees.
The regulations state that the employer must wholly fund eye examinations for all screen users and that, if it is found that glasses are required for DSE use, the employer must fund these too. However, our research suggested nearly half of employers (48%) merely offer a contribution towards DSE eyecare, a further 7% ask the employee to make a contribution and 8% simply do not know how their eyecare is funded! A poor 10% expect the employee to wholly fund their own DSE eyecare.
A significant number of employers, 27%, may be failing to comply with the regulations by not communicating their eyecare policy (or not having an eyecare policy to communicate), which is one of the stipulations of the legislation.
Our corporate account managers often find that new clients are surprised by the low cost of DSE eyecare. The research backed up the theory that it may be the perceived cost that puts employers off fully complying with the regulations.
A staggering 81% of employers surveyed said they would expect to pay more than £20 for DSE eyecare. Over half of respondents (53%) stated they would expect to pay more than £50 for both the examination and glasses. It may surprise them to learn then, that it is actually possible to purchase vouchers to cover both the full eye examination and glasses, if required for VDU use, for just £17.
It is also reasonable to suppose that many employers are actually funding these higher cost solutions. This means that they may be paying well over the odds for DSE eyecare. Considering that 33% of the companies surveyed had over 1000 employees and 10% had over 10,000 members of staff, the overspend, relative to these numbers, could very well be huge.
The regulations state that non-essential requirements from employees, such as designer frames, do not have to be funded by the employer. This is perhaps also where some organisations may overspend. The legislation states that it is the basic corrective frames and lenses, required solely and specifically for DSE use, which must be funded by the employer. Any optional extras are the responsibility of the individual.
Despite the lack of knowledge of the costs, further research carried out by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in October 20142 revealed that 62% of employers view eyecare as a valued benefit, with 20% of those even going as far as saying it is an ‘essential provision’. Imagine how highly valued it would be if they understood its true cost!
Employers struggling to understand the DSE regulations are encouraged to visit the HSE website and download the free guide: Working With Display Screen Equipment (DSE).
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare believes it is the role of the eyecare provider to deliver, support and educate. Employers should look for an eyecare provider that delivers the most cost effective, high quality eyecare possible. Do they offer retinal screening? This can help with the detection and monitoring of illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Do they have a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness? Do they deliver value for money? Does the eyecare provider support the employer in meeting their obligations? Are the eyecare solutions straightforward and low-admin? Does the provider educate employers and employees alike, providing information and guidance on eyecare, allowing informed decisions to be made?
If they do not deliver, support and educate, perhaps employers should shop around and evaluate.
The eVouchers are designed to be cost effective and virtually administration-free. According to Specsavers, the system enables eyecare to be quickly and easily purchased, allocated and managed, online. Real-time redemption reports, a clear audit trail and the ability to keep the whole process paperless, are said to have been popular with employers.
Specifically designed for workplace needs, eVouchers are available to cover DSE eyecare, safety eyewear, driver eyecare, and optical care as a valued benefit. Specsavers' staff will be on hand to discuss the new eVouchers.
|Skanska and Specsavers work to improve road safety||21/01/2015|
One of the top construction groups in the UK, Skanska, is utilising the expertise of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in a bid to increase road safety among its many drivers.
Skanska has been working with road safety charity Brake to promote road safety, but needed specific expertise and knowledge when it came to promoting the importance of regular eyecare. Tracey Bass, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, spent two days at Skanska’s offices, offering advice and information relating to driver eyesight.
Vitally, Tracey used one of Specsavers’ vision screeners to actively assess the eyesight of the Skanska employees. The vision screener is a tool used to give an indication of levels of vision, and whether the person would benefit from a full eye examination. Tracey explains: "Vision screening is not an adequate assessment of eye health or complete visual competency, but, it can be a useful tool in raising awareness of failures in vision and in encouraging people to visit their optometrist."
Any Skanska employees who did not perform well in the vision screening, or who gave Tracey reason for concern, were advised to make an appointment with their optometrist as soon as possible, to receive a full eye examination.
Tracey worked alongside Angie Prior, from the Fleet Team. Angie says: "We had two very productive days. A number of staff were given the recommendation to visit their optician for an eye examination and full eyesight test, which we would hope may work as a preventative measure and increase their road safety."
Skanska is keen to continue its relationship with Specsavers Corporate Eyecare and has already begun discussing how Specsavers can continue to further support its initiatives in 2015.
Tracey continues: "An eye examination goes much further than purely assessing sight over distance. For drivers it is important to also check peripheral vision and the ability to focus between near and far objects. A full eye examination may also aid with the detecting and monitoring of serious conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and risk of stroke or heart attack."
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has developed Driver Eyecare eVouchers, specifically designed for employees who drive in the course of their work.
Driver Eyecare eVouchers cost £35 each and provide: