Do your hybrid staff work on PCs or laptops daily for periods of an hour or more? Then, you’ll need to make sure they’re complying with DSE regulations.
There are health risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) and you have a legal responsibility to reduce these risks to staff. This doesn’t apply to staff who work from home temporarily. But if your staff always work from home or split their time between your workplace and home, you’ll need to follow certain rules.
If you don’t, you’ll be breaking health & safety law and risk hefty fines, personal injury claims, and even prosecution.
To fulfil your legal duty, here’s what you need to do…
1. A DSE risk assessment
Just like you would in the workplace, you’ll need to carry out a DSE assessment for staff working from home. This is to make sure they have a safe and comfortable environment to work in.
When you assess their workstation, you should consider:
- equipment – make sure your worker’s equipment is safe and suitable for the job
- positioning of equipment – the equipment should be positioned in a way that’s comfortable for the user (e.g. screens at arm’s length, supported lower back and feet)
- adjustments – your worker might need adjustments to make them more comfortable, like having additional back support or an ergonomic keyboard
- any specific requirements your worker might need e.g. if your worker has a disability
You don’t have to carry out an assessment yourself. It’s best for the worker to complete their own assessment form. You just need to provide them with the information they need like a DSE workstation checklist and ask them to contact you if they have any questions.
You need to carry out a DSE assessment not just to make sure staff are comfortable but also to identify and remove any health risks.
2. Identify health risks
You need to make your home workers aware of the health risks associated with DSE use. If you don’t lay out the rules and you’re not able to monitor your staff, they’re more likely to experience:
- musculoskeletal issues like neck, back and shoulder pain – if their workstation isn’t set up correctly, workers may have poor posture, and this can lead to muscle problems
- burnout and mental health issues – home workers may work long hours without breaks which can cause high levels of psychological distress, fatigue, and burnout
- impaired vision – staring at screens for lengthy periods of time, or in areas of poor lighting, can cause blurred vision, headaches, sore eyes, and temporary short-sightedness
Following your DSE assessment, you should be able to identify any potential risks to your worker’s health. Is their equipment unsuitable for the job? Are they unable to maintain good posture with the way their workstation is set up? If you identify any risks to the health of your remote workers, you’ll need to take steps to reduce them.
3. Take steps to reduce risks
You might need to take steps to reduce the risks to your home workers. This might include:
- organising or scheduling rest breaks – to break up long periods of staring at screens (we’d recommend regular, short breaks over fewer, longer breaks)
- rearranging desks and screens – to avoid glare, bright reflectors and allow more space for leg movement
- adjusting screen brightness and contrast settings - to suit lighting conditions in the room
- adding physical support features e.g. footrests – to make workers more comfortable
- adjusting curtains or blinds - to block out intrusive light
4. Provide training and information
As well as taking steps to reduce risks to hybrid workers, you should also provide them with training and information. So, they understand good working practices at home.
You might want to outline:
- the risks of DSE work and the measures you’ve put in place to control the risks
- tips for maintaining good posture when using DSE
- instructions on how to adjust furniture and organise their workstation
- instructions on how to clean their screen and mouse
It’s important to check in regularly. If your workers report discomfort, aches, or pains, then you’ll need to review your control measures and make changes where necessary.
You also need to provide instructions for your workers to report accidents, problems, and symptoms if they need to.
5. Outline how staff can report accidents
You can take steps to reduce or remove risks but sometimes accidents happen. It’s not always within your control. So, if your home workers do have a problem e.g. they trip over wires, there’s a spillage on the computer, or any other emergency – make sure they know who to contact.
Provide your workers with information on what to do if there is an emergency and how and when they should contact you. Give them emergency contact numbers to call if they need help.
Need to identify DSE risks?
You might not know where to start with a DSE assessment for your hybrid staff – but failing to manage the risks could land you in legal trouble. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone or at all if you don’t want to.
If you’re worried about meeting DSE regulations and the safety of your home workers, eliminate the burden with support from health & safety experts.
Your advisers are on hand to guide you through your risk assessments, helping you to minimise health hazards and keep your staff safe wherever they are. Just give us a call today.
And if you’re not yet a Peninsula client, get a free quote to start accessing unlimited health & safety support. From annual reviews to general queries, avoid legal risk and stay in line with HSE law 24/7.