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Display Screen Equipment

Published by Safety Net Team

June 26, 2023

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 place specific duties on employers with regards to the use of display screen equipment.

What is considered to be display screen equipment?

Display screen equipment (DSE)  This includes PCs, laptops, tablets, touch screens and smartphones but not televisions.

Display screen equipment within your workplace

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 apply to workers who use DSE on a daily basis for an hour or more at a time. However, they do not apply to staff who use DSE infrequently, or for short periods only.

If in doubt, it is safest to assume your employee is a DSE user.

What do employers need to do about display screen equipment?

Employers must:

  • carry out regular workstation assessments
  • reduce the risks associated with DSE use
  • provide or fund an eye test if the worker requests one
  • provide training and information on DSE use to help them understand how to mitigate the risks.

Workstations and assessments

Where staff use DSE continuously for 60 minutes or more in daily work, workstation assessments are required and should cover the set-up of the whole workstation (including equipment, furniture and work conditions such as lighting), the type of work involved and any special requirements requested, such as for users with disabilities.

Risks identified in the assessment must then be addressed.

It is recommended that organisations ask employees to carry out their own workstation assessments annually and flag up any issues with their manager. Assessments are also needed when moving to a new workstation, when new users start work, when changes are made to workstations or their use, or when users complain of pain or discomfort.

Software packages can help train users and assist in assessments. But remember that these packages are not an assessment in themselves. Trained assessors can help to clear up doubts, give feedback, and ensure identified problems are corrected.

Eyesight issues and eye tests

There is no evidence that DSE work either in the office or at home causes permanent eye damage. But prolonged spells can lead to discomfort (particularly for contact lens wearers when humidity levels are low), temporary short-sightedness, headaches, fatigue, eye-strain, plus pains in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, wrists hands.

The legislation requires employers to arrange, and pay for, eye tests if requested by the employee.

This should include a full eye and eyesight test by an optometrist or doctor, with a vision test and an eye examination. Employers can choose how they provide tests. For example, letting staff arrange tests and reimbursing costs later or sending all DSE users to one optician.

If glasses are needed for DSE use, employers should pay for them. DSE work is visually demanding and can reveal eyesight problems not noticed before, including changes with age. Employers only pay for glasses for DSE work if tests show that employees need special prescription glasses for the distance screens are viewed at. If ordinary prescriptions are suitable, employers don’t pay.

Employees can help their eyes by checking that screens are properly positioned and adjusted, ensuring good lighting conditions and taking regular breaks from screen work.

Work routine and breaks

By law, employers must plan work breaks, or activity changes, for DSE users. They are responsible for ensuring that users take suitable breaks.

There is no legal guidance about the length and frequency of breaks. Short breaks are better, ie 5 to 10 minutes each hour, rather than 20 minutes every 2 hours. Ideally, users should be able choose their own breaks, ie so they can get up for a short walk or a coffee when they’ve finished a certain piece of work. Break-monitoring software can be used remind users to take regular breaks.

Training and information

Employers must provide health and safety training and information about DSE work risks and how these can be avoided.

Working practices to encourage to mitigate the risks from DSE include:

  • adjusting chairs and other furniture for correct posture when working with screens
  • optimising desk space
  • adjusting screens and lighting to avoid reflections and glare
  • taking breaks
  • changing position regularly, moving and stretching
  • avoiding eye fatigue by regularly changing focus, eg looking at things in the distance
  • varying activities.

Employees should know who to report any problems or issues to.

Homeworking

Employer responsibilities for homeworkers include not charging for “things done or provided pursuant to their specific requirements”.

There is no increased DSE work from temporary homeworking, although employers should discuss arrangements with employees and take appropriate safety steps to ensure they have the correct equipment and know how to set up their work space correctly to protect themselves from musculoskeletal disorders. They must also provide advice on completing basic home assessments.

Where possible, employers should try to provide equipment (eg keyboard, mouse, and riser) that workers can use at home. They can also help in providing larger items (eg ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks, and support cushions) to create a comfortable working environment.

For more information go to get free advice and request a call back.

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