Q: Do we have to provide free eye sight tests and corrective spectacles for staff in Germany who spend prolonged periods using their computer?
A: Yes, in fact the requirement is clearly set out in an EU Directive number 90/270/EEC. This requires employees undertaking “VDU” (as display screen/computer/PC equipment was called then) work to be given regular eye sight checks and the company’s expense. If the problem is not resolved by normal spectacles worn, then a special pair for the work undertaken must be supplied. The employee concerned should base their claim on two essential grounds. Here is what the Directive states Article 9 Protection of workers’ eyes and eyesight
1. Workers shall be entitled to an appropriate eye and eyesight test carried out by a person with the necessary capabilities:
— before commencing display screen work,
— at regular intervals thereafter, and
— if they experience visual difficulties which may be due to display screen work.
2. Workers shall be entitled to an ophthalmological examination if the results of the test referred to in paragraph 1 show that this is necessary.
3. If the results of the test referred to in paragraph 1 or of the examination referred to in paragraph 2 show that it is necessary and if normal corrective appliances cannot be used, workers must be provided with special corrective appliances appropriate for the work concerned.
4. Measures taken pursuant to this Article may in no circumstances involve workers in additional financial cost.
5. Protection of workers’ eyes and eyesight may be provided as part of a national health system. In addition. Under the German Workplace Ordinance of 12 August 2004 (amended 2017) S3. It is necessary for employers to carry out risk assessments. This states that “During the risk assessment the employer shall take physical and mental stresses into account and, in the case of DSE workstations, in particular stress on the eyes or risks to the sight of workers. Based on the findings of the risk assessment the employer shall stipulate measures for the protection of workers pursuant to the provisions of these regulations including its schedule in accordance with the state of the art, occupational medicine and hygiene. Other established ergonomic findings are to be taken into account. “