DSE equipment includes workstations where there are monitors and keyboards on machinery and process equipment as well as personal computers, both desktop and portables (laptops).

The use of display screen equipment (DSE) or visual display units (VDU) is associated with health problems such as upper limb disorders (including pains in the neck, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers), back ache, fatigue and stress, temporary eye strain and headaches.

These health problems are often caused because the ergonomics of the workstation are not properly matched to the user. Computer equipment and workstations are built to recognised national and international standards and risks to users will be minimised when they use the equipment in the configuration for which it was designed. Health and safety legislation requires, therefore, that risks to individual users at their workstations are assessed and that appropriate measures are used to reduce the risk of injury or ill health.

Work activities should be planned so that operatives are not constantly using the keyboard, mouse and screen. There should be a variation in the nature of their work so that for approximately 10 minutes in every hour they will not need to use the display screen equipment.

Where a display screen user asks their employer to provide an eye test the employer must meet that request. The employer is obliged to pay for the test. If the eye test shows that the employee needs ‘special’ corrective appliances for display screen work the employer is liable for the cost; but liability is restricted to the cost of basic lenses and frames.