Eye check-ups for all BEST drivers after 142 were found colour-blind

Prajakta Chavan Rane

Mumbai, April 25 -- After taking six years to notice that 142 colour-blind drivers had been ferrying lakhs of passengers across the city, the BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has grounded them and is conducting check-ups at all its depots.

BEST hopes to identify all others with faulty vision by the end of June.

Currently, the drivers undergo a medical test before they start working for BEST and take another test when they turn 40. The average time between these two check-ups is about 15-20 years. But now, BEST plans to have eye tests every three years for its 10,000 drivers.

"Vision problems develop because of various factors such as blood sugar and high blood pressure. Eyesight needs to be checked periodically," said a BEST official. "At present, the staff members approach us only when they have a health problem, but no intermediate test is mandatory. But with a view to reduce human error in accidents, we will make these compulsory once in three years," said BEST official, requesting anonymity.

The undertaking has roped in KB Haji Bachooali Charitable Eye Hospital, Parel to conduct the check-ups.

In 2007, BEST recruited about 800 drivers on daily wages without conducting a medical test. They underwent a test in 2009 and BEST medical officials detected that some of them were colour-blind. However, these drivers then produced a fitness certificate from civic hospitals, which was accepted by the administration.

"The previous medical records of all employees were checked. Through this we learned that 142 drivers have colour-blindness. These drivers were grounded and directed for second opinion to JJ hospital," added the official.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.