Regular employee eye testing can significantly reduce injuries, improve safety and maximize productivity, especially in safety sensitive environments. An employee’s vision can be the reason they complete a task with precision, or cause an accident leading to injury or significant damage to the project they are working on.
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Vision can be monitored during a pre-employment screening and/or medical surveillance program. In fact, some occupational regulations require periodic vision verification to insure compliance. Criteria may include visual acuity, peripheral vision, depth perception, colour vision and sometimes night vision.
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Which 3 Canadian workforces require some of the most vigilant vision testing in Canada?
Becoming a police officer is one of the positions that is the most highly contingent on vision examination. Provincial and federal requirements vary, but excellent distance vision is required across the board to perform most of the visual duties of the police, such as safe vehicle operation, spotting weapons before approaching criminals, observation, and research.
Peripheral vision — the ability to see what’s beside you when looking straight ahead — can also be the difference between life and death, especially when searching a suspicious vehicle, engaging in a fight or running red lights during a car chase.
Unsurprisingly, commercial drivers must meet various vision requirements based on classes of driver's licences. Apart from provincial governmental regulations, commercial drivers nationally must have excellent distance and peripheral vision to be able to distinguish and identify distant objects like motorcycles and small vehicles, animals, pedestrians and roads signs while driving their trucks.
It is interesting to note that requirements around colour vision for commercial drivers are now less strict. In recent years, placement and shape of traffic lights have been adapted to be recognizable regardless of colour. Depending on work shifts, night vision is also an asset for commercial drivers — but this type of visual acuity is rarely measured or required.
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Holding one of the most dangerous positions in Canada, firefighters must meet almost unerring standards of vision acuity in order to assess burning structures and their surrounding environments. Typically it is unsafe for firefighters to closely approach the scene of a fire to evaluate smoke, flames or damage, so they must be able to do it from afar. Moreover, when searching for people in a raging fire, they rely on distance vision to pick up on subtle clues of victims being trapped in the flames.
Firefighters also use sophisticated thermal cameras while on duty. These cameras use colour coding to provide crucial information about heat level, presence of a person, etc. Colour blindness, also known as daltonism, would impede on their ability to properly perceive the colours.
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Please note: The information provided by Horizon Occupational Health Solutions is educational in nature and not prescriptive. Horizon Occupational Health Solutions does not accept liability for any health condition as a result of its educational material. Requirements were valid at the time this article was written. However, regulations might have evolved since then.