The office has changed rapidly over the past 40 years and continues to evolve taking onboard new technologies and sometimes different working methods and practices.

Over the past 25 years the single most common health problem reported by computer workers is eye strain.  On investigation, it has been found that  a small number of these complaints are due to actual visual problems that may be corrected by a visit to the optometrist.

However there are many associated problems that must be guarded against, some more serious than others.  These problems can relate to work related upper limb disorder (WRULD more commonly known as RSI), fatigue and stress.

These problems have caused the governments of Europe, Australia and New Zealand to issue a variety of Directives and Laws to address these issues.  In the USA there has been much discussion on the wording of proposed legislation.

However, providing workers with the best conditions in a cost effective way increases productivity and raises morale. 

The European Dimension commenced in 1990 with a Framework Directive (89/391/EEC) on health and safety together with five other ‘Daughter’ Directives.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, implemented in the UK consist of 9 Regulations and is the current driving force behind the improvements in office working conditions.  Unfortunately this group of regulations are either ignored by companies or at best given only ‘lip-service’.  Many organisations, employers and unions are drawn into the emotive issue of eye tests, without a balanced knowledge of the issues, causes and remedies available.  The consequence is that a lot of time, effort and money is being lost without significant gains in resolving workplace issues and problems.

From the available research and experience, the most effective way of tackling the issues is a combination of workstation assessments, training and vision screening.

The vision screener tackles the problems faced by the computer worker by gaining information directly from the user, testing their vision, then producing reports and recommendations that support training.

The bottom line is that this system clearly identifies users that have problems, produces reports and recommendations in a cost effective way.

Employers and employees

The single most common health problem reported by VDU workers is eye strain, however there are many associated problems that must be guarded against, some more serious than others. Work related upper limb disorder (WRULD) can be debilitating and has been the subject of substantial claims and awards for the worker.

Both the employer and the employee have duty of care under a variety of common law and statutory obligations including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the much publicised Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations 1992


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