Display screen equipment (DSE) is any equipment or device that has an alphanumeric or graphic display screen. This includes PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Over the past few decades DSE use has become increasingly commonplace in business and is now deeply relied upon. However, this regular DSE usage brings the risk of a number of health issues, namely musculoskeletal problems, headaches, eye fatigue (i.e. tired eyes) and stress. The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 were introduced to outline an employer’s responsibilities for DSE use. Regulation 6 outlines an employer’s responsibility to provide their staff with DSE training.
What should be included in Display Screen Equipment Training?
Setting up your DSE workstation properly is key in preventing musculoskeletal problems. Care must be given to adjusting the height of your chair and monitor as well as correctly configuring brightness and contrast settings on your monitor. Additionally, your keyboard and mouse must be positioned appropriately and your immediate work environment adapted for DSE use. Without proper training, DSE users can remain oblivious to the fact that they are endangering their health with an improper workstation set-up.
It is widely recommended that DSE users structure their work in a way that allows them to spend at least five minutes away from their screen every hour. This time can be filled with productive tasks such as photocopying, making calls and filing. However, without education on the importance of taking breaks, many workers would remain unaware of this guidance and suffer unnecessary eye fatigue and headaches.
In order to combat the musculoskeletal problems which can be caused by regular DSE use, a range of workstation exercises have been produced. These stretches are tailored to be suitable to perform at a DSE workstation and to target common sites of pain and discomfort. DSE users should receive guidance on how and why they should perform these exercises.
Who Requires Display Screen Equipment Training?
The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 require that employers provide all DSE users with DSE training. Confusingly, the term ‘DSE user’ does not simply mean anyone who uses DSE. To qualify as a DSE user you must fulfil the following criteria:
- Use DSE almost every day
- Use it for continuous periods of an hour or more
- Have to transfer data quickly to or from the DSE
- Meet at least one of the following additional criteria:
- Require high levels of attention and concentration when using the DSE
- Be highly dependent on the DSE or have little choice over using it
- Require specialist training or skills to operate the DSE
Whilst you are not legally obliged to provide DSE training to non-DSE users, it may be beneficial to provide any other staff who use DSE, but do not qualify as a ‘DSE user’, with training too.
Why is Display Screen Equipment Training Important?
The numerous health problems that often accompany regular DSE use can cause employee dissatisfaction, poor work quality and an increased number of sick days. These repercussions are detrimental to employees and employers alike. Undergoing DSE training not only educates employees on how to use DSE safely, but it also encourages them to take responsibility for maintaining their own health. As well as having a moral duty to take care of your workers, you have a legal duty to protect their health and safety. This obligation extends to the introduction of mandatory display screen equipment training.