ILO calls for 'collaborative efforts' on global scale to protect employees' eyes
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is underscoring the importance of protecting employees' eyesight as its latest report discovered that approximately 13 million employees are living with visual impairment that is occupational in origin.
The ILO report, released with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, revealed that work-related vision impairment is the third largest causal factor of vision-related conditions.
"This is the consequence of the 3.5 million estimated occupational eye injuries (about one per cent of all non-fatal occupational injuries) that occur every year," the report said.
It also found that global productivity loss due to vision impairment is "at least US$411 billion in purchasing power parity."
Global collaborative effort needed
Commenting on the report, Joaquim Pintado Nunes, ILO Chief of Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health, reminded employers to put more emphasis on protecting their employees' eyes.
"By prioritising eye health awareness and effective implementation, we can make sure workers have access to a safe and healthy working environment. This ensures their overall well-being, reduces disparities, and leads to heightened productivity," Nunes said in a statement.
According to the report, over 90% of vision impairment cases can be prevented or treated through existing and highly cost-effective interventions.
"This underscores the importance of concerted and collaborative efforts at the global, national, and workplace levels to safeguard the well-being of workers," the report said.
The report added that a "comprehensive national OSH system" is central to all preventative actions on eyesight. Among its key components include employers' responsibilities of taking protective measures to minimise workplace risks and providing information and training to employees.
Employees also have the responsibility to report dangerous situations to supervisors, and they have the right to remove themselves from such instances, according to the report.
"Supporting workers' eye health has many benefits for governments, employers and workers, including improved worker well-being, better safety records, and increased productivity," the report said.
"It has the potential to transform eye health in the workplace and consequently make a critical contribution to social justice overall."