Display screen equipment (DSE), such as computers, laptops or tablets, are used regularly at work. However, there are a number of health risks associated with this equipment if it is not used correctly, including musculoskeletal disorders (such as back pain), upper limb disorders (such as repetitive strain injury), and visual fatigue.
To help manage these risks, the use of display screen equipment is controlled by the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, which we will refer to as the DSE Regulations.
In this article, we will look at the main DSE Regulations and explore some of the key requirements it places on employers and employees.
Regulation 1 of the DSE Regulations sets out what display screen equipment is. Specifically, it states that DSE includes 'any alphanumeric or graphic display screen, regardless of the display process involved' with a few small exceptions.
It also defines who is considered as a 'user' of DSE, and are protected by these regulations as a result. A DSE user is considered to be any employee that 'habitually uses display screen equipment as a significant part of his normal work', including those that work from home or another employer's office.
Regulation 2 requires employers to carry out risk assessments of the workstations that they have provided, or their employees use (a workstation consists of the display screen equipment itself, any accessories or peripherals, and the surrounding work environment).
As part of this risk assessment (or workstation assessment), employers must identify any hazards, evaluate the risk of these hazards causing harm, and put measures in place to reduce or eliminate these hazards.
In typical workstations, these measures are often simple. For example, they may include:
However, this does not mean that DSE risk assessments should not be thorough or taken seriously, as an employer may be liable for any injuries that are caused by an improper risk assessment.
Regulation 3 sets out the minimum requirements for display screen workstations. Some of these requirements include:
Regulation 4 requires an employer to plan the activities of its employees in such a way as to limit the amount of time they spend working with display screen equipment where possible. They are also required to provide regular breaks or changes of activity to further reduce the time that employees spend using display screens.
Regulation 5 states that employers are responsible for providing eye and eyesight tests, and corrective appliances, for any employees who use display screen equipment.
Eye tests only need to be provided to those employees who have requested one. However, once this request has been made, an employee must receive their test as soon as possible, as well as additional tests at regular intervals after the first.
Employers are liable for the cost of any eye tests, but are not necessarily liable for the cost of any corrective appliances. Further information on this can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
Regulation 6 requires employers to provide its employees who use display screen equipment with appropriate health and safety training to ensure that they are able to do so safely. This training should cover the following information:
Regulation 7 sets out the information that an employer must provide regarding the use of display screen equipment. Specific information on this regulation is beyond the scope of this article, but can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
At Commodious, we offer a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) training course that can help employers comply with Regulation 6 of the DSE Regulations, and help employees to understand the risks associated with this equipment. To find out more about this course, use the link below: