Using Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Safely

Screens are so intrinsic to our working life that it’s easy to forget we’re using them; however, if they’re not set up correctly they can cause a whole host of musculoskeletal issues and other physical problems. With many businesses now having a substantial number of staff working remotely at home, and perhaps the frequency and length of using Display Screen Equipment (DSE) having increased due to new working practices, this raises potential issues of compliance with DSE regulations and an area of concern for employers.

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, employers have a duty to protect employees from screen-related harm, and to train people to use screens safely. Beyond the legal obligation, it makes good business sense to ensure that employees have the essential business tools needed to do their jobs, and work productively – without damaging their health.

Poorly structured workstations and work environments can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as repetitive strain injuries that can affect the hands, wrists and arms. Too much screen time can also cause damage to eyes, cause fatigue, and reduce our ability to perform our jobs well.

The law applies to all colleagues that use DSE in their work, including home workers, in-house employees and ‘hot-deskers’ – who may not have a permanent desk, but still need to have a safe, sustainable work space.

Display screen assessments

If workers use screens every day, for an hour or more, employers must complete a DSE workstation assessment to evaluate their current workstation layout. The assessment should be conducted by a trained assessor and whilst DSE specifically refers to screens in its name, the assessment should evaluate an employee’s entire workstation. This includes things such as any peripherals (e.g. keyboard and mouse) and work furniture, such as desks and chairs—as well as the screens themselves. Not only that, it should also evaluate an employee’s general environment, including the lighting, temperature, humidity and noise levels in their workstation. All of these elements can impact how the equipment is used.

Fundamentally, the assessment aims to evaluate how DSE is used and identifies any possible risks in doing so—ultimately ensuring that employees have the equipment, facilities and guidance they need to work safely and effectively.

When should you do a DSE assessment?

A DSE assessment should be carried out every time a new workstation is set up, when a new employee starts work or when there is a significant change made to an employee’s workstation.

Where workers are working from home on a temporary basis, you could simply ask them to complete an assessment checklist on their own, however for longer-term or permanent home workers, the risks are greater and as such, you should ideally have someone conduct a full workstation assessment – either in person or remotely.

What measures can an employer take to reduce DSE health risks?

Taking breaks

Encourage employees to take breaks from using DSE. This might mean attending a meeting, preparing paperwork or delivering a presentation. The key thing is that colleagues perform a variety of work tasks and take breaks from using display screens.

Ergonomic workspaces

In many modern offices, employees share desks and work from a variety of spaces, such as their home, meeting rooms, canteens and cafes. While this variety can be refreshing for our colleagues, consideration must be given to the effects of working in non-traditional spaces.

How can employees work safely if they are crouching over their laptop on a crowded train? While not all situations can be improved, employees can install flexible workspace equipment so that desks and monitors can be easily adjusted to suit different people.

Encouraging employees to use external monitors and mice can help improve posture and reduce repetitive strain injuries (RSI).

Eye tests

You must provide eye tests if employees request them. While using screens doesn’t cause eye damage, it can very tiring on eyes, and can make people aware of eye conditions that they hadn’t noticed previously. If your employees need glasses just for DSE work, then you must provide them.

DSE Training

Employers must provide training on how to use DSE safely. This training should include:

  • Understanding the risks of incorrect DES usage
  • How to set up DSE equipment
  • Reducing glare and reflections
  • Risk assessments
  • Taking breaks
  • Reporting concerns

Display screen equipment eLearning from DeltaNet

Do you need to deliver DSE training to your colleagues? Our eLearning courses make training quick and easy to deliver in any location. Online DSE courses are affordable making it easy to refresh periodically – or to provide to new starters. Contact us to arrange a demo or get a quote.

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