How to work safely with display screen equipment (DSE)
As either a company or employee, it is your responsibility to minimise the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE). This includes, as a company, taking sufficient measures and regular risk assessments to protect them. As an employee, in turn, you must follow the guidelines to ensure best practice in this area.
What is Display Screen Equipment?
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 place specific requirements on employers with the aim of protecting workers from the health risks associated with DSE. These duties also apply to the self-employed. The legislation defines Display Screen Equipment as any graphic display screen so covers PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones as well as other methods of displaying data, such as CCTV screens. A ‘user’ or ‘operator’ is a worker or self-employed person who uses display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specify that it applies to ‘workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time not infrequent users or short-term use’.
What are the health risks associated with DSE?
Employees may experience fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache from overuse or improper use of DSE. These problems can also be experienced from poorly designed workstations or work environments. The causes may not always be obvious and can be due to a combination of factors.
What can I do as a company to prevent such risks?
You must, as a first step, consult all your employees, in good time, on health and safety matters. Collaboration with your employees helps you to manage the potential health problems associated with DSE in a practical way by a) helping spot the risks, b) making sure health and safety controls are practical and c) increasing the level of commitment to working in a healthy way.
Secondly, you need to assess the risks associated with using DSE equipment and any special needs of individual staff. The DSE workstation checklist gives practical guidance on workstation assessments and is designed to encourage employees to take an active part. If employees are suitably trained, they can fill in the checklist themselves.
And finally, if an employee requests an eye test you are required to arrange/pay for one. If the test shows that the user needs glasses specifically for DSE work, you must pay for a basic pair of frames and lenses.
What can I do as an employee to prevent such risks?
The DSE checklist gives the following primary tips to help you:
- Forearms should be approximately horizontal, and the user’s eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen.
- Make sure there is enough workspace to accommodate all documents or other equipment. A document holder may help avoid awkward neck and eye movements.
- Arrange the desk and screen to avoid glare, or bright reflections. This is often easiest if the screen is not directly facing windows or bright lights.
- Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent intrusive light.
- Make sure there is space under the desk to move legs.
- Avoid excess pressure from the edge of seats on the backs of legs and knees. A footrest may be helpful, particularly for smaller users.
- A space in front of the keyboard can help you rest your hands and wrists when not keying.
- Try to keep wrists straight when keying.
- Good keyboard technique is important – you can do this by keeping a soft touch on the keys and not overstretching the fingers.
- Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
- Change activity before users get tired, rather than to recover.
- Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones.
Find out more…
Do you need help in understanding your workplace DSE obligations and to ensure you are legally compliant? Contact us to find out more about our automated solutions to such issues in the workplace.