Display Screen Equipment at Work

09 July 2019

Although many employees have to use modern technology such as computers, the devices pose workplace health & safety risks you must address.

Display screen equipment (DSE) is common in most working environments. So, it’s essential you follow UK health & safety laws to protect your employees. This guide explains how you do that.

What is display screen equipment?

DSE is any device that has an alphanumeric or graphic display screen. That includes a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

When considering DSE at work, you should also look at workstations where there are monitors, keyboards, machinery, and process equipment.

Although this technology helps many businesses complete essential tasks, DSE does pose workplace health & safety problems for your staff.

So, it’s important you’re aware of these potential health issues and put in place supportive measures for your employees.

What are the health & safety concerns of DSE?

The use of DSE and visual display units (VDU) can lead to health problems including:

  • Upper limb disorders (such as pain in the neck, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers).
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Back ache.
  • Stress.
  • Temporary eyestrain and headaches.

These health problems usually come about due to the lack of efficiency in a workstation. If DSE isn't a match for an employee, it can create health problems or make existing issues worse.

These days, companies develop computer equipment and workstations with these issues in mind. There are national and international standards to consider.

Ultimately, you can minimise risks when staff use the equipment in the correct way.

The Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 legislates this area of health & safety.

What is a DSE assessment?

It's an inspection of electronic equipment your business uses and whether it affects your employees' health. 

Health & safety legislation requires a DSE workstation assessment to identify risks to individual user safety and to ensure a healthy working environment.

So, you should inspect the following pieces of equipment:

  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Display screens

You should examine an employee’s use of a screen. That'll then determine whether they need further assistance.

To further help with daily equipment usage, you should look to plan work activities so users aren’t constantly using a keyboard, mouse, and screen.

Make sure there’s variation in the nature of their work so that for approximately 10 minutes in every hour they won’t need to use display screen equipment.

The benefits of DSE assessment software

You can use online health & safety software to manage your requirements. It helps to make your life easier, as you can:

  • Create DSE risk assessments.
  • Record any issues—such as incidents and accidents.
  • Gain access to your policies at the click of a button.
  • Receive expert training.

You can get support whenever you need it—at Peninsula Business Services, we provide you with details on how to carry out a DSE assessment, along with advice for providing the right equipment for your employees. Get in touch with us on 0800 028 2420 for assitance. 

Compiling a DSE assessment checklist

It’s good business practice to use a document and then print it off to mark during your inspection.

You can use an HSE DSE assessment checklist, such as the below structure:

  • Keyboard:
    • Is it separate from the screen?
    • Does it tilt?
    • Is it possible for its user to sit comfortably?
    • Does the user have strong keyboard technique?
  • Mouse and trackball:
    • Is the device suitable for the user’s tasks?
    • Is there support for the user’s wrist and forearm?
    • Is it adjustable for speed and accuracy?
  • Display screens:
    • Are the screen’s characters readable?
    • Is the text size suitable?
    • Are images stable?
    • Are the brightness and contrast adjustable?
    • Does the screen tilt?
  • Furniture:
    • Does the user have a suitable work surface?
    • Is the workstation chair suitable?
    • Is the workstation chair stable?
    • Does the workstation chair have an adjustable seat height?
    • Are the forearms horizontal?
    • Are the user’s feet flat on the floor without excessive pressure on the back of their legs?
  • Working environment:
    • Is the lighting suitable around the user’s workstation?
    • Is the air temperature comfortable?
    • Are noise levels acceptable?

You should consider your working environment when putting together a unique checklist for your business.

Also, you must still carry out a review if an employee is working remotely.

Is a DSE assessment a legal requirement?

Yes. Under UK law, you must complete a workstation assessment. Depending on the results, you must then take actions to:

  • Reduce any risks you identify.
  • Enforce regular breaks for staff.
  • Allow employees to take an eye and eyesight test if they ask for it.

If the employee does need an eye care test, then there’s a procedure to follow. 

Eye tests for DSE users

Under DSE regulations and employer eye test law, when an employee asks you to provide an eye examination then you must meet that request.

Do employers have to pay for eye tests?

In some circumstances, yes. Sometimes you’ll need to fund a pair of specially prescribed glasses. Many high street opticians do DSE test offers for employers that keep the costs down.

However, a more regular question from staff is, “Should my employer pay for my eye test?” No. Unless it's a specific requirement, an employer doesn't have to. 

Well, as an employer you only have to pay if an employee needs special glasses prescribed. Otherwise, they’ll have to purchase the glasses for themselves. Glasses can cost anywhere between £50 and £119—depending on the requirement.

Under the HMRC, eye tests for employees are part of a cost for periodic health screening and medical check-ups. It states:

“Do not treat expenses incurred by the employer in providing a health-screening assessment or a medical check-up for employees, as conferring a chargeable benefit on those employees. If an employer incurs expenses in providing check-ups for members of an employee’s family or household this represents a benefit chargeable on the employee unless the family or household member is also an employee of the employer who provides the check-up.”

Need our help?

Discover more ou need any assistance with your workplace health & safety requirements, get in touch—we’re here to help: 0800 028 2420.

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