The nation's first law designed to protect workers from eye strain and other complaints associated with long-term use of computer terminals could serve as a model for other measures, proponents say. ``There's no doubt that this will greatly encourage many labor groups to put this on the top of their legislative agendas,'' said Louis Slesin, editor of VDT News, a New York-based industry newsletter that estimates 15 million US workers use computers.
The law regulating video display terminals (VDTs) was enacted Tuesday when the Suffolk County Legislature in New York State overrode a veto by the county executive, who predicted the law ``will cost Suffolk many good high tech jobs.''
Supporters of the law, however, were pleased with its passage.
``I'm ecstatic,'' said Jan Pierce, vice-president of Communications Workers of America, which supported the measure. ``The legislature stood up to big business and held its ground.''
Statewide VDT legislation is pending in at least six states, including New York and Connecticut.
The law gives VDT workers breaks or new job assignments, requires employers to pay 80 percent of the cost of needed annual eye exams and eyeglasses for workers, and mandates that any new equipment have such features as non-glare screens, adjustable desks and five-legged chairs.