Posted: Mon 29th Jan 2024
In an era where millions of people in Britain spend an increasing number of hours in front of computer screens, it's crucial to address the potential health risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) use.
Here, we’ll delve into the legal requirement for employers to perform a suitable and sufficient workstation risk assessment and provide adequate health and safety training for users. Understanding the Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations of 1992 will help you to ensure the wellbeing of your DSE users and maintain a safe and productive working environment.
The growing prevalence
In today's digital age, it's undeniable that computer workstations are an integral part of our daily lives. With the increasing prevalence of remote work and technology-based tasks, millions of people in Britain and around the world find themselves spending an ever-increasing number of hours in front of computer screens. However, this widespread use of display screen equipment has raised concerns about the potential health risks associated with extended screen time.
Common health issues associated
Prolonged use of DSE can lead to various health issues. Computer workstations are often linked to neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, along with fatigue and eyestrain.
Surveys have found that a substantial proportion of DSE users report experiencing aches, pains or eye discomfort. These discomforts are often classified as upper limb disorders (ULDs), which encompass various medical conditions, including repetitive strain injury (RSI). Although many of these conditions may not result in severe illness, it's in everyone's best interest to minimise these risks as much as possible.
Understanding the Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations of 1992
To address these concerns and protect the wellbeing of DSE users, the Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations of 1992 were introduced. These regulations recognise the growing prevalence of DSE in the workplace and aim to safeguard the health of individuals using this equipment. Employers are legally obligated to:
Analyse workstations to assess and reduce risk
Consider the entire workstation setup, including equipment, furniture, and the work environment, as well as the specific job requirements and individual staff needs
Ensure that workstations meet minimum requirements to minimise health risks
Plan work schedules to incorporate breaks and changes in activity to prevent overuse
Arrange eye tests on request and provide special spectacles if necessary
Provide health and safety training and information to employees
Preventing DSE-related health issues
It's essential to emphasise that DSE work is not inherently risky. Upper limb disorders can be effectively avoided when users adhere to good practices and workstations are set up correctly. Regular breaks during prolonged use are also instrumental in mitigating the potential risks. By following these simple precautions, work with DSE can be comfortable and productive, without compromising the health of the employees.
The role of competent assessors
For employers with a substantial number of DSE users, it's advisable to appoint a competent individual to act as an assessor. This assessor plays a crucial role in:
Identifying who falls under the jurisdiction of the DSE regulations
Assessing workstation risks and implementing control measures to mitigate these risks
Providing essential training to employees to ensure their safety and wellbeing
Regular assessments are critical, especially when there are changes in personnel, equipment, significant alterations in job tasks or if the user decides to change their workstation. These assessments help maintain a safe and compliant working environment.
In conclusion, the Health and Safety (DSE) Regulations of 1992 provide a necessary framework to safeguard the wellbeing of employees who rely on display screen equipment in their daily tasks. It is your job as an employer to adhere to these regulations, conducting assessments and providing training to ensure a safe and productive working environment.
By promoting awareness of the potential health risks and encouraging the implementation of preventative measures, we can make DSE use comfortable and sustainable, benefiting both employers and employees alike.