DSE: deliver; support; educate
06 February 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.
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.