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The Benefits and Dangers of Using Dual Screens

Health & Safety Knowledge Base | Display Screen Equipment

Posted by: Lauren Hockley Published: Tue, 11 Sep 2018 Last Reviewed: Tue, 11 Sep 2018
The Benefits and Dangers of Using Dual Screens

The term dual screen means that there are two monitors connected to a single computer at the same time. The use of dual screens is increasing in prevalence across organisations in all sectors. However, certain types of workers (e.g. designers) reap more benefits than others. Increased productivity and ease of data comparison are just two of these fundamental advantages. Using any display screen equipment (DSE) poses a risk to workers' health, including musculoskeletal problems, headaches, tired eyes and stress. Importantly, using dual screens increases these risks further and should therefore be treated with caution.

What are the Benefits of Using Dual Screens at Work?

Using dual screens can offer a whole host of benefits to your workforce. The main advantages can be whittled down to:

  • Increased productivity
  • Quick laptop integration
  • Easy use of multiple programs at a time
  • Easier comparison of data

Multiple studies have reported that the use of dual screens both increases productivity and reduces errors. Speeding up employees' rate of work could save businesses an inordinate amount of money every year. Understandably, this is a highly attractive quality as time is a precious commodity.

Setting up an additional monitor with a laptop has become very easy when using most laptops. This can be beneficial for workers who are only using a workstation for a short period of time. Workers could quickly disconnect the extra monitor and take their laptop with them to their next job. This facilitates flexible working and hot desking.

Using dual screens makes it easier to run programs side by side. This is a particularly useful property for designers (amongst many other workers) who often use multiple programs simultaneously. Therefore, use of dual screens can increase efficiency and prevent workers wasting time in an unnecessary juggling act.

Easy comparison of data allows precise attention to detail which in turn results in a higher quality of work being produced. Instead of memorising information from one program to another, workers can have both running simultaneously, side by side, minimising the scope for mistakes.

The Benefits and Dangers of Using Dual Screens

What are the Dangers of Using Dual Screens at Work?

The most common health complications caused by using DSE are: musculoskeletal problems, tired eyes, headaches and stress. Using dual screens increases the risks of developing DSE-related health problems, especially visual discomfort as well as the health problems associated with increased twisting and stretching of the spine. However, proper set-up can mitigate this extra risk. Flicking your eyes between two separate monitors can result in both tired eyes and headaches. Whilst these are both risks prevalent when using a single monitor, they are enhanced through the regular use of two. The increased twisting and overstretching caused by a larger total screen span can result in musculoskeletal disturbances. The neck and lower back are particularly vulnerable to damage and can be the source of considerable discomfort and pain.

Setting up Dual Screens

It is important to set up your dual screen correctly as this helps avoid the health risks associated with using DSE. However, before choosing to use dual screens, you should first consider whether you could get by using a singular wide screen instead. This is preferable to a dual screen set-up as it comes with fewer health risks. If you choose to use dual screens, you should observe the following steps.

  • First you should set your screens to the same resolution to prevent visual discomfort. This can be done in the control panel which is found in display settings. If you are struggling, you could ask IT for support.
  • Next you should position the screens so that your head and neck are straight and your eyes are in line with the top of both screens. If one screen is smaller than the other (e.g. you are using a laptop) you can use a riser to lift it to the height of the other. This should reduce the need to bend or twist your neck.
  • Once the heights are set for each monitor, you should slightly angle the outside edge of screen that you use least inwards. Again, this reduces the need for neck movements.
  • To reduce back twisting, you should set up only one keyboard and mouse and ensure you position yourself at a straight rather than curved section of your desk.
  • Finally, to set up your keyboard you must decide whether you use one screen more than the other or use them both equally. If you use one more than the other, the 'H' key should be positioned in line with the centre of the screen you use most. This should avoid twisting or overstretching your lower back.

Why is Dual Screen Training Important?

It is widely acknowledged that despite the benefits of using dual screens, their use increases the incidence of DSE-related health conditions. In order to facilitate safe use, it is important to train all dual screen users. Undertaking display screen equipment training encourages proper workstation set-up. Without this education workers may find themselves operating inadequate working environments and expose themselves to unnecessary health risks. Similarly, training can cultivate an increased understanding of DSE health risks. A proper understanding of the causes and consequences of these risks encourages workers to implement good practice when using DSE and look after their own health.

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