Policy Brief

Eye health and the world of work

Vision is a critical factor in ensuring both safety and productivity at work. It directly impacts a worker's ability to perform tasks effectively and avoid accidents.

Around the world, over 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.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) have collaborated to produce a report Eye Health and the World of Work, drawing attention to healthy vision as being integral to safety and productivity at work.

The report recognises the magnitude of the burden of sight loss in the workplace, and the opportunity for improving wellbeing and productivity through promoting healthy sight by calling on every workplace to have a formal program to protect and enhance the sight of workers.
The report proposes a program designed with three goals in mind:

• To prevent exposure to the hazards particular to each workplace
• To protect the existing health of workers’ eyes
• To provide a system to include workers’ naturally occurring sight loss, including age-related vision loss, in risk assessments.

The proposed program is founded upon the fundamental OSH conventions Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) as well as the other up to date OSH conventions of the ILO. At the enterprise level the proposed intervention aligns with the Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems approach and is based on the Hierarchy of Controls method.