Have you got DSE covered in the workplace?
Computer workstations and equipment can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain. Surveys have found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort and while not necessarily causing serious ill health, it makes sense as an employer to try to identify and eliminate the factors involved wherever possible*. So, it’s worth taking a little time to find out what you need to do and to get the right procedures in place.
This area comes under The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002), designed to protect the health of workers by reducing risks from VDU work. The DSE regulations apply where employees use a computer with a VDU screen as a significant part of their normal work. And, importantly, this also applies to lap top users and employees working from home.
Under the Regulations employers must:
Analyse workstations to assess and reduce risks
A risk assessment should be carried out on all workstations where employees use VDU equipment as a significant part of their job – this should be done at least annually or whenever an employee moves to a new workstation. The assessment should look at the whole workstation including equipment, furniture, and the work environment. It should also look at the job being done as this can vary between users and consider any special needs of an individual for instance if an employee is pregnant or has an eye condition.
Ensure workstations meet specified minimum requirements
All equipment provided must be fit for purpose according to individual needs. Office chairs must have a five star base, be height adjustable and have adjustable back support. Other aspects to be considered are the display screen equipment itself (software, screen and keyboard), lighting, noise, reflection and glare, layout and work surface. Where an individual requires further support it must be investigated and reasonable adjustments or adaptations provided such as looking at ergonomic options for office furniture.
Plan work activities so that they include breaks or changes of activity
Employees should have regular breaks away from computer work so try to build variety into job design and encourage colleagues to take short breaks at regular intervals.
Provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and special glasses if needed
Employers must provide and pay for an eye test if an employee feels they need one. An eye test should also be provided if a problem is identified following a DSE assessment. If the eye test then identifies that the individual requires glasses for VDU (DSE) use, the employer is responsible for paying for them. Employers are also responsible for providing and paying for any further tests if they are felt necessary by the optometrist.
Provide information and training
Employers must provide training to make sure employees can use their equipment safely covering subjects such as how to adjust their chair and screen, importance of good posture and taking breaks etc. A member of staff should take overall responsibility for ensuring the DSE regulations are met and receive training to ensure that they are competent to do so.
Don’t forget an increasing number of employees now work from home or across multiple sites. They are still covered by the Regulations though and must receive a risk assessment. Help and advice can also be tailored to these ways of working. For instance, laptops are used by many home workers but were primarily designed for short-term use. If they are used for long periods, docking stations, separate keyboards and mice should be provided so that the user can adjust the workstation in a manner most comfortable for them.
Having clear and consistent procedures in place regarding Display Screen Equipment (DSE) will bring several benefits: you ensure your responsibilities as an employer are covered; you reduce the chance of your employees suffering problems such as musculoskeletal disorders as a result of their work; and you improve productivity by reducing sick time.
There is more information on our website www.vergouk.com concerning DSE Assessments and we are always happy to help with any queries you might have about DSE and ergonomic solutions for the workplace, just give us a call or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Information taken from the Health and Safety Executive website: