As we have already written here, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on December 22, 2022, that there is an obligation on companies, employers, to provide their workers with vision correction devices, prescription glasses and contact lenses, in cases where the latter work in front of monitors and screens.
We recall that the above-mentioned ruling, in summary, drew the following conclusions:
1 – Council Directive 90/270/EEC of May 29, 1990 lays down minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment. Specifically, Article 9(3) states that:
“Workers shall be provided with special corrective devices designed for their type of work if the results of the examination referred to in paragraph 1 or of the examination referred to in paragraph 2 demonstrate the need for such devices and normal corrective devices cannot be used.”
According to the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union), when the Directive refers to “special corrective devices”, it includes “prescription glasses specifically designed to correct and prevent visual impairment in connection with work involving display screen equipment”.
2 – The same regulation states that there is, in fact, an obligation to provide workers with a special corrective device, which can be fulfilled by supplying the visual correction devices or by refunding the costs to the worker.
On this subject, ACT (Portuguese Authority for Labor Conditions), in Technical Note no. 11, of June 2023 – “Display screen equipment – medical surveillance”, expressed its position on this issue, concluding as follows:
“In fact, with regard to work carried out using display equipment, in addition to the obligations laid down in the RJPSST (Legal Regime for the Promotion of Safety and Health at Work), the employer is obliged to assess the safety conditions of the workplace in question, as well as to ensure that the worker’s health is monitored, which must include an appropriate medical examination of vision and, if necessary, an ophthalmological examination. In this context, appropriate measures must be identified and subsequently implemented in order to control exposure to risks – particularly those related to risks to vision – while promoting safety and health at work. When, in view of the results of the medical examinations carried out, the workers’ health surveillance service so determines, and if the use of normal corrective devices is not possible, workers should be provided with special corrective devices, which must be designed for the type of work carried out, as the wording of the law states.”
The purpose of this note is to clarify and summarize companies’ obligations with regard to the health and safety of workers at workplaces where display equipment is used.
The aforementioned Note appears to contain 5 (cumulative) methodological requirements for the analysis in the specific case, which, according to its introduction, are binding on ACT’s understanding:
I) Whether or not the workplace is evaluated by the OSH (Occupational safety and health) services (p. 2);
II) Whether or not there is an assessment of the health and safety conditions in the workplace (p. 3);
III) Whether or not measures have been taken on the basis of the evaluations carried out (p. 4);
IV) Whether or not workers are guaranteed an eye exam (p. 5);
V) To assess whether the results of medical examinations (i) require and (ii) do not allow the use of normal corrective devices (p. 5).
And in this way (and only in this way), there could be a possible obligation on the part of employers to provide special correction devices. We’ll keep an eye on how ACT acts.
Joana Azenha @ DCM | Littler