Director Briefings Part 4: An Employers Obligation In Relation To The Use Of Display Screen Equipment

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An employers obligations to display screen equipment

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is part of the working environment for all workplaces nowadays. You wouldn’t be reading this briefing if it were not!

Health issues and injury can arise from use of display screen equipment unless controls are in place to prevent them. With the Board having ultimate responsibility for health and safety in its business, Directors need to have some awareness of the risks and risk mitigation measures so that they can spot, challenge, and do something about unsafe behaviours. Ignoring the risks can have criminal consequences for you as well as for the business, and of course ignoring issues doesn’t help your staff avoid injury. In fact, it can lead to claims – all of which is bad for business.

In this briefing, health and safety specialists from Finch Consulting’s legal team, Sue Dearden and Julia Thomas review how Directors can support their health and safety specialists in ensuring their business manages the risks from display screen equipment use, to avoid injury to staff as well as to themselves.

Which employees should be on your radar?

Anyone who uses display screen equipment (such as laptops, tablets, PCs, and smartphones) for their work on a daily basis for an hour or more at a time (DSE users). Short term and irregular use should not cause a problem.

What must employers do for display screen equipment users?

  • Risk assess each work area to identify and mitigate risks to health.
  • Provide and pay for an eye test if an employee asks for one, and suitable glasses if any employee needs them only for display screen equipment use.
  • Provide training and information for staff about the risks to their health and their role in mitigating the risks to themselves.

Common issues which you can help to identify and correct:

  • Ensure that you understand what sort of risks create potential health issues – bad posture, bad positioning of chairs, screens, feet, legs, arms and wrists and a failure to take regular beaks from repetitive work can all contribute to a painful back and upper limbs. Screens suffering from reflections and glare can cause eye strain, headaches, and temporary short sightedness. If you notice a lack of awareness or adherence to safe working practices don’t ignore it. Lead by example in your own use of display screen equipment, pick it up in others, and do draw the attention of your health and safety support to the need perhaps for refresher training if you feel that staff awareness of the issues is lacking.
  • Be alert to early signs of injury (headaches, and back, arm and leg aches and pains) from conversations that may indicate an issue with posture, position, or poor lighting, and intervene to suggest a fresh risk assessment to correct any issues quickly.
  • A common issue is the failure to carry out a risk assessment for everyone and to renew the assessments when the work area changes. A generic risk assessment for the workplace is simply not good enough. We are all different shapes and sizes and the assessments have to be carried out for each worker and reviewed by a competent assessor. They also have to be redone if someone moves to a new workstation. Where you currently have people working from home for example, have risk assessments been reviewed to check that their home environment is suitable for their work for you? Don’t take for granted that this has been done – check with your health and safety adviser, and as with all things health and safety, lead by example in ensuring that you are mindful of your own risk assessment and posture for DSE work.

More information?

The HSE’s DSE workstation checklist is useful and provides clear images to help you identify bad posture. It is worth a quick review to help you with hazard spotting.

If you have any questions arising from this briefing, Finch Consulting’s experts include occupational health, ergonomic and human behaviour experts who can help your business  in becoming compliant, staying compliant, and auditing compliance with health and safety requirements.

For more information about display screen equipment contact;

Susan.dearden@finch-consulting.com M 07909 682 688

Julia.thomas@finch-consulting.com  M 07956 397097

Director Briefings | Finch Consulting