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Keep an eye on your eye health at work

Published: 05.09.2023

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and IAPB have released a new report that stresses the importance of protecting workers’ eyesight.

GENEVA (ILO News) – More needs to be done to protect workers’ eye health, as stated in a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and IAPB.

According to Eye Health and the World of Work, 13 million people live with vision impairment linked to their work, with an estimated 3.5 million eye injuries occurring in the workplace every year. This amounts to 1 per cent of all non-fatal occupational injuries.

Eye health significantly affects labour markets: workers with vision impairment are 30 per cent less likely to be employed, compared to those without. Economic development plays a significant role in the prevalence of vision impairment, with low- and middle-income regions experiencing about four times more cases than high-income regions.

Over 90 per cent of vision impairment cases are either preventable or treatable through existing, highly cost-effective interventions, emphasizes the study. This underscores the need for coordinated global, national, and workplace initiatives to protect workers’ well-being since eye health is an integral part of workers’ health.

Occupational safety and health (OSH) programmes to protect and enhance the vision of workers should be designed with three goals in mind, underlines the study: prevent exposure to specific hazards in each workplace; protect the existing health of workers’ eyes, and provide a system to include workers’ naturally occurring sight loss in risk assessments.

Workers should be consulted on eye health programmes, as well as the duties, rights and responsibilities of employers, workers and their representatives in preventing eye ill health.

The ILO stresses the importance of protecting workers’ safety and health – including their eyes. By prioritising eye health awareness and effective implementation, we can make sure workers have access to a safe and healthy environment. This ensures their overall well-being, reduces disparities and leads to heightened productivity,” said Joaquim Pinto Nunes, ILO Chief of Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health.

“This report demonstrates to everyone the vital importance of looking after our eyes, whilst also giving incredibly useful guidance and recommendations for how to protect and promote eye health within the workplace,” said IAPB President, Caroline Casey.

The study comes a month before World Sight Day, which this year focuses on the importance of eye health in the workplace with the theme ‘Love Your Eyes at Work’. It calls on employers around the world to prioritise the eye health of their staff.

Read Eye Health and the World of Work