Manage the risks from display screen equipment

Manage the risks from display screen equipmentWith employees increasingly reliant on computer equipment and electronic devices, it's important your business meets all relevant display screen regulations

Display screen equipment (previously known as 'visual display units') can pose a number of possible health and safety risks. In the UK, display screen regulations mean you have a responsibility to assess and minimise these risks.

Display screen regulations: the risks

Regularly working with display screen equipment (DSE) can pose a number of risks to your employees. They may complain of eye strain, fatigue or headaches. They may also suffer from back or upper limb disorders.

The risks can be caused by glare from the display itself or by poorly designed workstations and unsuitable office furniture, resulting in poor posture. Employees using laptops or other portable equipment can also suffer manual handling injuries if not suitably trained.

When do display screen regulations apply?

Display screen regulations apply to 'display screen users'. This means any employees that use DSE, including computer monitors, tablets, laptop computers, touch screen equipment or any other alphanumeric or graphic display screens for a significant part of the day.

In practice, this usually means employees who use DSE on a daily basis and continuously for more than an hour at a time. However, if you have employees who use DSE less frequently, it may still be worth considering the risks they might face and taking steps to minimise them.

What steps do the display screen regulations say I should take?

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, you are required to carry out a risk assessment if you have DSE users in your workplace. If your employees regularly use display screens, you must:

  • analyse employees' workstations for possible risks and minimise those risks as far as is practicably possible;
  • make sure controls are in place to the minimise risks;
  • provide safety information and training;
  • provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and any special spectacles required; and
  • review your risk assessment when the equipment or user changes.

You should include assessment of display screen risks in your normal risk assessment (which must be in writing if you have five or more employees) and assess any special requirements of individual members of staff. The Health & Safety Executive has produced a practical checklist of the risks you should look out for.

Once you have identified the risks, you must take steps to remove or minimise them as far as possible. The steps you take can be as simple as making sure all employees take regular breaks away from their desks, providing all employees with ergonomic furniture or replacing old monitors with newer, adjustable models.

You should not assume that once you have completed your assessment that the job is done. The risks can change and new risks can arise whenever new equipment, working practices or employees join your company. You should monitor the risks on an on-going basis and take any steps to keep them under control. Always keep display screen regulations in mind when purchasing equipment and bringing in new members of staff.

Read guidance on how you can minimise the risks of using DSE from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

You can also download a guide from the HSE on what you must do if you have display screen users in your business (PDF).

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