The human eye was never meant to look short distance only, in an enclosed environment. For those of us who spent most of our working time staring at a screen (and possibly, doing the same at home with TV, iPads, etc.), we have grown accustomed to it but are we ignoring the symptoms? And is that the right approach to ensure the wellbeing of your staff?
Employees working primarily with VDUs apparently blink less, meaning that eyes don’t get lubricated as they should. Symptoms could be itching, burning, irritation, redness, blurred vision (should go away with blinking) and light sensitivity (brings on dull headaches). These symptoms can be worse in an environment where there is a lot of air conditioning or central heating. Ideally, we should eliminate the cause of the problem. I don’t know about you, but working in an office that is suffocating, or below 0, does not appeal much!
If you cannot make reasonable changes to the workplace, there are alternative options you can implement, as the employer:
- Ensure staff have access to plenty of drinking water throughout the day
- Promote ‘eye breaks’ for VDU users – ideally, they should look long distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes (or 5 minutes every hour)
- Place a humidifier around the office to counteract the drying effect of the air con/heating
- Ensure fans in the office (including air con units) are directed away from the eyes as the moving air will cause tear instability
- Provide anti-glare screens for VDU users where artificial lighting reflects directly onto the employee’s computer screen
- Ensure VDU users have an eye test every two years
- Ensure all VDU users have a workstation assessment to discount any other reasons such as poor positioning at their desk
If you do not already, you may wish to consider an Eye Care Policy, whereby you decide the level of financial support you will provide to employees towards eye tests and glasses/contact lenses.
The Adastra HR team can help with all types of employee mediation and conflict resolution to support employee management, as well as with HR Business Partner support. Look us up at www.adastrahr.co.uk.