Are employers required to pay for eye tests and glasses for their visual display unit operatives?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/2792) cover visual display unit (VDU) work. Regulation 5 sets out an employer's responsibility for providing eyesight tests. It provides that the employer must ensure that, on request, VDU users - or individuals who are to become VDU users - are provided with an appropriate eye and eyesight test. VDU users are defined as employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. The test must be carried out as soon as practicable after the request or, where the individual is to become a VDU user, before he or she does so. Thereafter, the employer must ensure that the VDU user is provided with further eye and eyesight tests at regular intervals.

Employers are required to pay for spectacles for a VDU user only if the results of his or her eye and eyesight test show that special corrective applicances are necessary for VDU work and that normal corrective appliances cannot be used. Only a small number of people need special spectacles for VDU work. These typically have prescription lenses for the intermediate distance at which the VDU screen is viewed.