27 November 2019

45% of organisations worry employees’ eyesight is not adequate for driving

Almost half of employers are concerned that employees who drive during the course of their work may not have adequate eyesight to do so safely.

That’s according to new research from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare published to coincide with national Road Safety Week, which has just concluded and is co-ordinated annually by road safety charity Brake.

Aimed at inspiring thousands of organisations and communities to take action on road safety and promote life-saving messages during the Week and beyond, it is also targeted at businesses to improve at-work driving safety and reduce the on-road risk exposure of drivers and themselves as employers.

In a survey of more than 500 HR decision makers from companies of all sizes across the UK, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare discovered 45% of employers had concerns about whether their workers’ eyesight was as good as it should be for driving.

As a result, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is encouraging employers to take a lead in ensuring that their drivers can see well enough to drive.

The research also highlighted that almost three-quarters (72%) of employers said that they offered workplace eye care to all who drive for work purposes; 17% said they offered it to some drivers; and 11% said they did not offer eye care to anyone driving in the course of their work.

The law requires a driver to be able to read a modern number plate from a distance of 20 metres, which Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, called “quite minimal”.

He said: “The fact that so many employers are concerned should serve as a wake-up call. If employers are offering eye care to the majority of drivers but are still concerned that their eyesight is not good enough, then clearly something is missing.

“It is not enough to just offer corporate eye care. It needs to be proactively communicated and promoted too. If employees were more aware of the risks they run by not having regular eye tests, such as potentially losing their driving license, they may be more likely to take up the benefit.”

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare recommends that employers put up posters and information on staff noticeboards or add details on a staff intranet to encourage employees to take up their eye care benefits.

Additionally, a number of the optician’s customers also engage in wellbeing days, which enables them to promote all health benefits on offer to their staff. That, said Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, provided an opportunity for employees to learn about the wider benefits of testing, including the optometrist being able to detect symptoms of wider health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.

The Road Haulage Association is supporting Specsavers Corporate Eyecare’s campaign to encourage drivers to have regular eye tests. Chief executive Richard Burnett recently had his eyes tested by an optometrist at the company who spotted the early symptoms of glaucoma.

Mr Burnett was referred to hospital and his condition is now being monitored and treated. However, as his glaucoma was picked up early he has suffered no loss of vision and can continue to drive, according to Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

He said his experience showed how essential it was for everyone to have regular eye tests, especially if they drive.

Mr Burnett said: “I think it’s really important in my position that I lead by example and get regular eye tests. For so many people in the UK; truck operators in particular, the roads are their place of work, it’s where they do business. We need to make sure that they are safe and that we are doing all we can to cut the number of incidents. That includes having regular eye tests to make sure that everyone has not only good eyesight, but also good eye health.

“It is encouraging to know that if, like me, the optometrist finds an issue during the eye examination, it can usually be managed with the right medication and support.”