Display screen equipment (dse) and workstations
Guidance Information on DSE use at work
DSE (Display Screen Equipment) is equipment with an alphanumeric or graphical display screen used at work, such as a Desktop PC, a Laptop PC, Tablet or Smartphone. An employee is legally considered a 'user' of this equipment when they use such equipment for an hour or more a day continuously or near continuously, most days for work purposes. This may occur in RGU premises, at another employer's premises or at home.
Such use can cause health effects, such as musculoskeletal disorders, eye strain and work-related stress. The employer is therefore required to assess the risks to employees associated with DSE use and take steps to minimise risks.
Self Assessment forms and information on their completion can be found on the Risk Assessment page. The risk assessment should be reviewed if any new equipment is purchased, if the workstation is altered or relocated; if someone new takes on the role or if there is any other reason to suspect that the assessment is no longer valid. It should also be reviewed if the user experiences any health issues which could be attributed to DSE use.
Good DSE Practice at Work
Guidance information Working With VDUs is available from the Health and Safety Executive.
The DSE Regulations contain a Schedule setting out standards for each piece of DSE Equipment in a User's workstation. DSE users at RGU must have equipment, an environment and software (where appropriate) that complies with these standards. Extracts from the Schedule are documented below. All new equipment must comply with these standards.
(a) General comment. The use as such of the equipment must not be a source of risk for operators or users.
(b) Display screen. The characters on the screen shall be well-defined and clearly formed, of adequate size and with adequate spacing between the characters and lines.
The image on the screen should be stable, with no flickering or other forms of instability.
The brightness and the contrast between the characters and the background shall be easily adjustable by the operator or user, and also be easily adjustable to ambient conditions.
The screen must swivel and tilt easily and freely to suit the needs of the operator or user.
It shall be possible to use a separate base for the screen or an adjustable table.
The screen shall be free of reflective glare and reflections liable to cause discomfort to the operator or user.
(c) Keyboard. The keyboard shall be tiltable and separate from the screen so as to allow the operator or user to find a comfortable working position avoiding fatigue in the arms or hands.
The space in front of the keyboard shall be sufficient to provide support for the hands and arms of the operator or user.
The keyboard shall have a matt surface to avoid reflective glare.
The arrangement of the keyboard and the characteristics of the keys shall be such as to facilitate the use of the keyboard.
The symbols on the keys shall be adequately contrasted and legible from the design working position.
(d) Work desk or work surface. The work desk or work surface shall have a sufficiently large, low-reflectance surface and allow a flexible arrangement of the screen, keyboard, documents and related equipment.
The document holder shall be stable and adjustable and shall be positioned so as to minimise the need for uncomfortable head and eye movements.
There shall be adequate space for operators or users to find a comfortable position.
(e) Work chair. The work chair shall be stable and allow the operator or user easy freedom of movement and a comfortable position.
The seat shall be adjustable in height.
The seat back shall be adjustable in both height and tilt.
A footrest shall be made available to any operator or user who wishes one.
(a) Space requirements. The workstation shall be dimensioned and designed so as to provide sufficient space for the operator or user to change position and vary movements.
(b) Lighting. Any room lighting or task lighting provided shall ensure satisfactory lighting conditions and an appropriate contrast between the screen and the background environment, taking into account the type of work and the vision requirements of the operator or user.
Possible disturbing glare and reflections on the screen or other equipment shall be prevented by co-ordinating workplace and workstation layout with the positioning and technical characteristics of the artificial light sources.
(c) Reflections and glare. Workstations shall be so designed that sources of light, such as windows and other openings, transparent or translucent walls, and brightly coloured fixtures or walls cause no direct glare and no distracting reflections on the screen.
Windows shall be fitted with a suitable system of adjustable covering to attenuate the daylight that falls on the workstation.
(d) Noise. Noise emitted by equipment belonging to any workstation shall be taken into account when a workstation is being equipped, with a view in particular to ensuring that attention is not distracted and speech is not disturbed.
(e) Heat. Equipment belonging to any workstation shall not produce excess heat which could cause discomfort to operators or users.
(f) Radiation. All radiation with the exception of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum shall be reduced to negligible levels from the point of view of the protection of operators' or users' health and safety.
(g) Humidity. An adequate level of humidity shall be established and maintained.
Interface between computer and operator / user
In designing, selecting, commissioning and modifying software, and in designing tasks using display screen equipment, the employer shall take into account the following principles
- software must be suitable for the task;
- software must be easy to use and, where appropriate, adaptable to the level of knowledge or experience of the operator or user; no quantitative or qualitative checking facility may be used without the knowledge of the operators or users;
- systems must provide feedback to operators or users on the performance of those systems;
- systems must display information in a format and at a pace which are adapted to operators or users;
- the principles of software ergonomics must be applied, in particular to human data processing.
It is important that regular breaks are taken from DSE work. These breaks can simply be a change of task e.g. making phone calls, filing. Several short breaks are more effective than one long break. Users should be given as much control over their workload as possible in order for them to determine when to take breaks and how to distribute their DSE use over the working day.
DSE users may also find it useful to perform simple exercises developed to relieve tension in the muscles.
Information & Training
All employees who have access to DSE equipment (particularly those identified as DSE users) should receive suitable and sufficient training to protect their health whilst using DSE. This should include:
- A summary of the DSE Regulations
- What the risks are to their health and the importance of assessing and controlling the risks
- How to set up and adjust the workstation equipment to the optimum layout
- Work organisation - the importance of distributing tasks to allow time away from the screen
- The entitlement to eye and eyesight testing and how to access RGU's own arrangements
- Maintenance of equipment
Information should be provided to Users regarding the results of their workplace assessment and any countermeasures proposed / implemented to rectify concerns including details of any procedures put in place.
Eye and Eyesight testing
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 entitles all employees identified as “DSE Users” to an eye and eyesight test.
This should normally be undertaken by the University's nominated Opticians (Black & Lizars). A repeat test shall be carried out at an interval recommended by the Optician (usually every two years).
In compliance with the Regulations, if the Optician finds that corrective lenses are required specifically for using DSE and selects “Box 3” in the "Results of Examination" section of the VDU Examination Report form (see below) the School / Dept / Unit will meet the costs of a standard frame and lenses.
If box 3 has been selected the University has arranged with Black & Lizars that the employee will receive the following contributions: £100 for single vision glasses and £200 for bifocal or varifocal glasses. The actual costs charged to the School / Department / Unit are: £55 for single vision glasses and £110 for bifocal and varifocal glasses.
The HSE estimates that approximately 10% of Users tested will require corrective lenses in the context of these Regulations.
Please note that the University's nominated Optician is currently Black & Lizars, Belmont Street, Aberdeen and is listed as a supplier in the University's procurement system. Employees may go to any optician of their choosing but only with the express consent of the budget holder. Using an optician other than Black & Lizars can result in difficulty in establishing whether or not the employee is entitled to a contribution from the University towards the cost of lenses and the University will not benefit from the cost reductions outlined above.
The NHS now meets the cost of a standard eye test (not a DSE eye test) from any optician. Should you take advantage of this free test and be informed you may need glasses specifically for DSE use, please arrange to undergo a DSE test as per the procedure below.
Procedure for Booking an Eyesight Test:
- An eyesight test shall be provided for any user upon the user's request (normally once every two years).
- RGU has an agreement with Black & Lizars. However, an alternative optician may be used but only if authorised by the Head of School / Department. If an alternative provider is considered please contact the OHES Department for further advice with regards to contributions from RGU.
- In order to have an eyesight test, the VDU Examination Report Form below must be completed prior to arranging the appointment.
- The employee must complete the form by filling in the employee and School/Department details in Part 1.
- The University will only contribute towards the cost of corrective spectacles if the employee requires visual correction specifically for VDU use. This will be confirmed by the ticking of box 3 under 'Result of Examination' section of the form. The decision of the Optometrist is final.
- If box 3 is ticked, the optometrist will arrange for spectacles to be provided in conjunction with the employee. Once ordered, Black & Lizars will provide a receipt to the employee for the amount that RGU is to pay.
- Any additional costs that exceed £100 for single vision spectacles and £200 for bi or vari-focal vision spectacles (e.g. fashion frame, tinted lenses, etc) are to be met by the employee at the time of ordering.
- The employee must raise a PO on PECOS for the amount stated on the receipt with their School/Department either on the same day of the eyesight test or the following day. A PECOS Catalogue is available for Black & Lizars.
- Once approved, a PO will be emailed to Black & Lizars with the appropriate PO number in order that the invoice can be paid.
- The user shall report any problems relating to the use of DSE to their line manager as soon as possible.
- The above refers to glasses intended for use with display screen equipment only. It does not cover the purchase of any other types of glasses including prescription safety spectacles or goggles.