Let’s be honest, most of us pay little attention to the health implications related to the layout of our workstations. As long as our desk appears to be in the right configuration when showing up for work on a Monday morning, we’re happy.
As ‘hot desking’ becomes a more common practice, it’s easy to accept that our chair might be a little too high or the screen a little too low. But disregarding the nuances of correct DSE (Display Screen Equipment) arrangement can have a damaging and sometimes lasting effect on our performance and health.
Not only that, there are specific legislative and best practice requirements for the use of DSE such as computer configuration, which are in place to protect staff from adverse health effects including; shoulder, neck and arm pain, as well as fatigue and eyestrain.
In this article we’ve highlighted 7 ways you can ensure workstations comply with DSE regulations, reducing sick days and improving the overall health of your workforce.
1. Take a break
According to the DSE Regulations, employers need to plan workers’ activities so that that their daily work on display screen equipment is periodically interrupted by such breaks or changes of activity. While there are no specific recommendations as to the length or frequency of breaks, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives the guidance:
2. Adjust your screen
Eye strain and fatigue is a major risk when using display screen equipment for extended periods of time. Steps to insure your screen complies with the regulations include:
3. Choose your keyboard
As the most commonly used input device for most display screen equipment, it is vital to set up your keyboard correctly:
4. Take a seat
An ergonomically designed workstation is key to protecting yourself while working at a screen. Factors to consider include:
5. Let there be (the right) light
Another important consideration is the lighting conditions where display screen equipment will be used. Room lighting or spot lighting (work lamps) should ensure satisfactory lighting conditions and an appropriate contrast between the screen and the background environment, taking into account the type of work and the user’s vision requirements.
You should also aim to prevent any possible disturbing glare and reflections on the screen by coordinating workplace and workstation layout with the positioning and technical characteristics of the artificial light sources. Windows should be fitted with a suitable system of adjustable covering to attenuate the daylight that falls on the workstation.
6. Get your eyes tested
The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 state that workers are entitled to an appropriate eye and eyesight test carried out by a person with the necessary capabilities:
Under the regulations, workers are entitled to a free eye examination and, if necessary, must be provided with special corrective lenses. Under no circumstances should workers be liable for any additional financial cost.
7. Become a DSE expert
With DSE being one of the commonest kinds of work, there is potential to make work more comfortable and productive for a very large number of people by taking a few simple precautions.
Fortunately RoSPA now offers DSE Assessors and Ergonomic Principles course, enabling employers to ensure compliance with the relevant HSE guidance notes and to reduce the risk of associated ill-health effects. For more information please visit our DSE Assessors page.