Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Vision testing and prescription

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Under certain circumstances, financial assistance is available for vision testing and prescriptive eyewear to eligible UWA employees.

This will normally be when testing is required due to discomfort experienced or caused by work, and when prescriptive eyewear is needed for UWA-work-related activities, not for private, non-work-related activities.

The University provides financial assistance when specific eyewear is required to protect the employee’s health, above that which would normally be required for non-work purposes.

Funding for testing (when required) and a subsidy for prescriptive lenses is to be provided by the faculty, division, office, school, section or centre when an employee meets the eligibility following criteria:

Provision of safety glasses, including prescription safety glasses and sunglasses for outdoor workers are categorised as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) under occupational safety and health legislation and must be provided by the local faculty, division, office, school, section or centre when required for work purposes.

Definitions

Prescriptive lenses
Spectacle lenses and contact lenses prescribed by an optometrist.
Protective eyewear
Safety glasses, safety goggles or sunglasses.
Vision Testing
Comprehensive vision testing as undertaken by an optometrist or practitioner recognised as a provider by Medicare.

Responsibilities

The University policy on Work Health and Safety requires that all persons take reasonable care of their own health and safety at work. When undertaking work-related duties, any onset of pain or discomfort must be reported as soon as possible to their supervisor.

Supervisors and managers are responsible for advising their employees of this guidance and assisting with its implementation. They are also responsible for ensuring that persons under their control are not exposed to the risk of injury or harm as far as is practicable, and that funding is available to cover the cost of the subsidy.

Vision testing - eligibility for subsidy

Vision testing is covered under a Medicare subsidy every two years. Employees should check with their health provider for bulk-billing arrangements. Where a UWA employee is experiencing visual discomfort at work and is not eligible to receive a subsidy under Medicare, the testing must be paid for by the faculty/division/office/school/section/centre.

All three of the following eligibility criteria must be met in order for testing and/or the subsidy to be paid:

  1. A person's ability to undertake work tasks is compromised and the employee is suffering from physical symptoms when at work, such as when using screen-based equipment/computers, when reading instrumentation or fine print, or when driving.
  2. The provision of prescribed eyewear is for performing UWA work. The prescribed eyewear is not for use with non-work related tasks, such as study, private work on a computer, general reading or any other private activities.
  3. An application has been completed for subsidy – vision testing, prescription lenses or prescription protective eyewear, including a signature of declaration from the employee that the prescribed eyewear is for performing UWA work and not for non-UWA work/private use.

To assist with delineating requirements over and above normal everyday private activities, a person (with or without lenses or visual aids) would generally be expected to be able to read newspaper print and see into the distance sufficiently to drive a vehicle. With the common use of computers or laptops at home, employees should be aware of what constitutes “everyday use” for themselves as individuals and take responsibility for their own eye health accordingly.

Exclusion to the above criteria is when an employee has been diagnosed with low vision, in which case further assessment for visual aids and equipment at work is advised through referral to the occupational therapists in UWA Safety and Health.

In some situations it can be difficult to delineate whether the staff member has a visual problem or something in the environment is causing symptoms. In this case, referral to an occupational therapist in UWA Safety and Health is recommended.

Subsidy for prescriptive lenses or protective eyewear

If the criteria outlined in "Vision testing - eligibility for subsidy" are met, a subsidy towards the purchase of corrective lenses (includes spectacles and contact lenses) will be made available and paid for by the faculty/division/office/school/section/centre only if the employee is a direct employee of UWA and is on an ongoing or fixed term appointment, with a written contract of greater than six months, with at least one month of the contract to the expiry date.

A subsidy of up to $120 would normally only be payable on one set of corrective lenses once every two (2) years (based on the date of purchase), unless documented evidence of deterioration is provided by a medical practitioner, optometrist or ophthalmologist and the affect on work related duties is supported by the documentation; and criteria outlined in "Vision testing - eligibility for subsidy" (above) are met.

Prescriptive safety glasses where required (and when standard normal safety glasses are unable to be used in conjunction with prescribed contact lenses, or spectacles) are considered personal protective equipment and therefore the employer has an obligation to fund the provision of these fully.

For outdoor workers, provision of approved sunglasses is deemed to be personal protective equipment and therefore must be provided by the employer under occupational safety and health obligations. Sunglasses must meet Australian Standards:

  • AS 1067.1 Sunglasses and fashion spectacles : Part 1 – Safety requirements
  • AS 1067.2 Sunglasses and fashion spectacles : Part 2 – Performance requirements.

For details of potential suppliers, contact Safety and Health on (+61 8) 6488 3938.

If a staff member requires sunglasses with prescriptive lenses, the subsidy for $120 must be supported by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The subsidy for sunglasses with prescribed lenses can be in addition to the subsidy for prescriptive eyewear for indoor work purposes, provided both types of eyewear are required by the staff member as per "Vision testing - eligibility for subsidy" (above).

For other applications for which safety eyewear is required, refer to UWA's personal protective equipment guidelines - eyewear.

This guidance does not apply to casual workers. Casual workers experiencing any difficulty with visual discomfort while working at UWA should contact the occupational therapists in UWA Safety and Health.

Claiming the subsidy

Employees requiring the subsidy for prescriptive eyewear, prescriptive sunglasses, or prescriptive safety glasses must discuss the requirement and options with their supervisor before proceeding to claim the subsidy or proceeding to arrange for testing, or purchasing eyewear.

The employee will be required to provide supporting evidence from an optometrist or ophthalmologist (completion of the Application Form) stating that the requirement for corrective lenses is predominantly due to work-related tasks and not so much for personal use. This supporting evidence shall determine whether a subsidy will be provided (or the full amount for prescriptive safety glasses).

If corrective lenses are prescribed and the employee meets the eligibility criteria the subsidy will be reimbursed following presentation of original receipts and the completed Application Form to the authorising manager. Should the employee be experiencing financial hardship and unable to afford prescriptive lenses needed for work tasks, they are encouraged to speak to their supervisor, rather than possibly compromising their eye health.

On the basis that eligibility is met and the subsidy approved, the faculty/division/office/school/section/centre will reimburse to the employee the total cost of the vision test (if not already covered by Medicare) and subsidise up to $120 “out of pocket expenses” towards the purchase of corrective lenses and basic frames – expenses not covered by any other means. Employees who have private health insurance must process the cost of their prescription lenses through their provider before seeking a further subsidy from the University.

As an example, excluding the cost of the vision test, if the total cost of lenses and frames is $380, and the employee gets $150 back from private health insurance, they would be eligible for a subsidy from the University of $120.

Original accounts and receipts must be submitted. A subsidy will not be paid if a photocopy of an account or receipt is provided.

Funding will not be available for any further appointments or consultations which may arise as a result of the initial testing and provision of prescribed eyewear, including repair, loss, theft or damage to the prescriptive eyewear.

Any further expenses (adjustments, repairs or replacements) must be met by the employee.

To assist the University monitor the uptake of this subsidy and cost, staff with financial delegation to approve the subsidy are required to complete an N-form and use account 693 – security and safety expenses combined with the description “Prescription eyewear Reimb [Surname]”.

For advice on interpretation of this guidance contact the Senior Occupational Therapist in UWA Safety and Health on (+61 8) 6488 4683. The Director of Human Resources has the discretion to make determinations in relation to the implementation of this guidance and provision of the subsidy.

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