Display Screen Equipment

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll look at what display screen equipment is, what the law covers, and how to manage devices for office and home workers.

More businesses today are making the most of using digital equipment. A lot of these devices are defined as 'digital screen equipment' or DSE.

Whilst most display screens don't cause huge harm, using them wrongly can lead to future health risks. If employers don't manage DSE use, they could end up injuring people, paying fines, and causing business losses.

In this guide, we'll look at what display screen equipment is, what the law covers, and how to manage devices for office and home workers.

What is display screen equipment (DSE)?

Display screen equipment (DSE) are devices that use an alphanumeric or graphic display screen. This equipment holds a significant part in a DSE user's normal work; and includes:

  • Personal computers (PCs) and laptops.
  • Tablets.
  • Smartphones.
  • Flat-panel displays.
  • Television or CCTV screens.

DSE use also covers monitors, keyboards, or ergonomic chairs. Whether it's portable equipment or full-size workstations, employers have a legal duty to ensure their staff are using them safely and correctly.

What is the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992?

Employers must comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.

This law applies to those who class as an employee, worker, or self-employed person. When it comes to DSE, employers have a legal requirement to:

  • Carry out a DSE risk assessment.
  • Manage tasks and work environments.
  • Ensure DSE training is relevant and updated.
  • Provide additional support for relevant devices or technology.
  • Cover the costs of eye tests and glasses if applicable.

What happens if you don't comply with DSE regulations?

If employers don't comply with the DSE Regulations, you risk causing all kinds of consequences - for employees and your business.

You could end up causing workplace accidents - resulting in lost wages or work entitlements. If an employment tribunal (ET) finds suitable evidence for these claims, you could end up paying unlimited compensation awards in damages.

Every employer has a legal duty to protect workers' health and wellbeing during DSE use. This includes both their mental and physical health. Whether a DSE user works in the office or from home, it's important to ensure they're working safely.

What are the health risks linked to display screen equipment?

There are several health risks linked to the incorrect use of display screen equipment.

Employees may need a couple of days' rest to recover from headaches or eye strain. But serious health and safety risks can lead to semi or even permanent ill-health - affecting their everyday life.

Let's take at the health risks linked to display screen equipment:

Eye strain

This is caused by poor screen brightness, bad screen distance, and lack of eye protection (like glasses). Eye strain can cause sore eyes, dizziness, and even sleep issues (for those who use DSE daily).

Musculoskeletal disorders

These illnesses are often linked to poorly designed workstations. Common musculoskeletal disorders can cause repetitive strain injuries to limbs, muscles, and bones.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

This often happens when work causes compression to wrists, hands, and legs. This illness is also linked to 'work-related upper limb disorders' (WRULD), but also lower limb illnesses too.

Mental health illnesses

These often occur when DSE users work for long, extended periods without proper breaks. Common mental health illnesses that occur are fatigue, stress, and depression.

How to manage display screen equipment in the workplace

Whether your employees work in the office or at home, it's important to ensure they're using DSE safely.

Incorrect use can lead to all kinds of health issues - affecting your staff and the overall business. When it's managed well, you'll be able to protect workers' health, safety, and welfare in the best manner.

Let's look at ways of managing display screen equipment in the workplace:

Carry out a DSE risk assessment

The first step employers need to take is carrying out a DSE risk assessment. This DSE assessment helps ensure your employees' workstations are safe to use and compliant with the law.

The DSE assessment may cover devices, furniture, and even workstations. In some cases, they can even highlight the need for ergonomic furniture. For example, your DSE assessment may find that a pregnant employee needs support cushions and leg rests.

Employers can conduct a basic risk assessment for most DSE users. However, you may need tailored DSE assessments for those who suffer from physical or mental health conditions.

Highlight who counts as a DSE user

There are all kinds of employees who'll count as a DSE user. For example, anyone who uses display screen equipment for more than one hour a day. It won't include those who use DSE infrequently or for short periods.

Display screen equipment users will also have a specific kind of workstation. For example:

  • Fixed workstations: This is tailored to individual employees and their specific work needs. However, these users often suffer from poor posture and improper use of devices.
  • Hot-desking: This is for employees who change desks regularly. These users will end up using other peoples' setups or struggle to readjust them.
  • Remote working: This is when employees work away from the traditional location; i.e., their homes. These users often suffer from loneliness or long periods of isolation.

Ensure DSE users take regular breaks

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, you must ensure employees take regular breaks away from display screen equipment.

There's no legal requirement on how long or often breaks should be; so, it's best to comply with the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). These regulations apply to all workers when it comes to taking regular breaks - daily and weekly.

Employers should plan work around daily breaks. Encourage employees to walk away from their workstations, stand up from time to time, or sit with good posture.

Provide a DSE safety training course

Employers must provide training to all DSE users. (It's not just for a line-manager or senior employee). With the right process, you'll be able to answer questions like, 'why is DSE training important for us?'

DSE training (commonly known as Visual Display Unit or VDU) covers all kinds of areas. For example:

  • Highlight the right position for desks, monitors, and workstations.
  • Ensure employees know how to work in the correct posture.
  • Reduce risks from screen glares and blue-light exposure.
  • Take regular breaks away from workstations.

Offer eye tests when needed

One of the most common health risks related to DSE work is eye strain. That's why it's beneficial to offer employees an eye test when needed.

You may need to pay if a test shows they require one for their DSE work. If a worker asks, why not reimburse them for previous eye tests? Or send all employees to the same optometrist (as this may soften the financial burden on the business).

In some cases, employers may need to pay for glasses, too. However, this only extends to the use of specialised glasses - and not ordinary prescriptions that a DSE user may want.

Do you need to provide DSE training for homeworkers?

Yes, employers must provide DSE training to anyone who works from home. This includes flexible and remote workers.

Offer a basic risk assessment that allows them to set up DSE workstations at home. However, you may need to provide them with safety training beforehand.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on DSE workstation assessment, online training, and even certification (after successful completion).

Get expert advice on display screen equipment with Peninsula

Every employer has a legal requirement to comply with all DSE safety legislation. This includes caring for DSE users in the office or at home.

If you neglect the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, you could end up injuring people, paying fines, and causing business losses.

Peninsula offers expert advice on display screen equipment. Our teams offer 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 029 4377 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.

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