Display screen equipment (DSE)

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Display screen equipment (DSE)

Most people work with computers, or other forms of equipment with screens and keypads.

Those who spend a significant part of their working day at computers can develop aches, pains or eye discomfort. These often result from the repetitive nature of the work and over time can develop into serious conditions, such as tenosynovitis or upper limb disorders.

Preventing such problems and conditions involves:

A full and proper assessment of the task

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended) require employers to carry out a Risk Assessment of workstations. This includes equipment, furniture, the work environment, the job being done, and any special needs individuals may have. These assessments should be carried out when a new workstation is set up, when a new user starts works or when there is a substantial change to an existing workstation. If users start to complain about aches and strains, this may be an indication that an assessment needs to be reviewed.

As with any form of risk assessment, accurate written records are essential to demonstrate compliance with legal requirements.

Setting up workstations properly

Workstations must meet minimum requirements, such as chairs being fully adjustable for back and leg support, sufficient room to carry out the tasks safely, tiltable keyboards, height adjustable screens. Where hot desks are provided, staff should be trained into how to adjust the workstation so they can work safely.

Taking breaks during periods of prolonged use

Tasks need to be planned so DSE users can take a break from work periodically to reduce the risk of strain. Most work involves activities other than using a computer. People can take a break to make phone calls, discuss jobs with colleagues, or file paperwork, for example. Regular short breaks of at least 5 minutes every hour are better than longer breaks every few hours.

Proper training, information and instruction

Full information and training on how to set up a work station safely should be given to all appropriate staff. Employees who habitually use DSE for a significant part of the day can request an eye and eyesight test, paid for by the employer. If special corrective appliances (normally spectacles) are prescribed for the distance the screen is viewed at then the employer must pay for them. If an ordinary prescription is suitable for DSE work, employers do not have to pay for spectacles.

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