Display screen equipment (DSE) is any equipment or device that has an alphanumeric or graphic display screen. This includes PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Regular DSE use is common in the workplace and whilst it has revolutionised business, it does come with risk. Regular, prolonged DSE use can cause musculoskeletal problems, eye tiredness, headaches and mental stress. Due to these health risks, it is deemed necessary for employers to perform a DSE risk assessment and act to mitigate any risks which may be identified. Rectifying actions include, but are not limited to, establishing proper workplace set-up, providing DSE training and ensuring DSE users take regular breaks. Furthermore, conducting DSE risk assessments is not a choice – it is a legal requirement.
Regulation 2 of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 outlines an employer’s responsibility to conduct workstation assessments and reduce any risks which have been identified. Employers have a responsibility towards any DSE users employed by them as well as any agency workers they are using. DSE users are workers who use DSE almost daily, for continuous periods of an hour or more, and transfer data quickly to or from the DSE. Additionally, DSE users must either: require high levels of concentration, be highly dependent on the DSE, have little choice over using it or require specialist training or skills to use it. Part of the DSE risk assessment is made up by the workstation checklist which can be completed by users, provided they receive training on how to fill it in. The risk assessment must be repeated if there is any reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or if there has been a significant change to the workstation.
How Can Risks Be Reduced Once They Have Been Identified?
Regulation 2 continues to state that employers must reduce the risks identified within the assessment to the lowest level reasonably practical. A number of approaches can be used simultaneously to reduce DSE risk, including workstation adaptations, encouraging regular breaks, performing workstation exercises and providing DSE training. DSE users require training to know how to arrange their workspace to avoid health problems. Emphasis must also be placed on taking regular breaks as it is widely advised that DSE users should spend at least five minutes of every hour doing non-DSE tasks. Break monitoring software can be implemented to encourage workers to take breaks. However, the responsibility still ultimately falls on their employer. In summary, awareness and education are the key tools in combatting DSE-related health problems, both of which can be generated through display screen equipment training.
Why should you conduct a Display Screen Equipment Risk Assessment?
A thorough risk assessment allows quick problem identification and peace of mind for both DSE users and their employers. When coupled with an effective system to combat risks as soon as they are identified, a whole host of ramifications can be avoided. There is research to suggest that proper use of DSE only results in a very low risk of DSE-related health conditions. However, improper use and poor workstation set-up substantially increases an individual’s risk. This unnecessary additional risk often culminates in employee suffering and consequent repercussions on productivity and satisfaction. Therefore, it seems logical to undertake regular risk assessments before this chain reaction is put into motion. As previously mentioned, risk assessment is a legal requirement outlined in regulation 2 of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992. Compliance is vitally important to ensure you are line with the law. Also, under regulation 6 of the DSE Regulations 1992, employers are required to provide their DSE users with training and education on DSE use. Risk assessment and training can go hand in hand to raise awareness of the importance of proper DSE use and arm users with the knowledge and skills to implement good practices.