Do You Spend Your Working Day in Front of a Screen?

Then this could apply to you

Posted on: 23/06/2016   By: Lee Rance

Don’t worry this isn’t the beginning of some cheesy infomercial but simply to offer information and advice on the health and safety issues around the use of DSE (Display Screen Equipment).

By Yamavu (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Yamavu (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

A lot of us are unaware of the potential problems that can occur around the use of poorly arranged workstations. For example typical health problems associated with DSE include:

  • Upper limb disorders (including pain in neck, arms, elbows, wrist, hands, fingers and also specific conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Spinal discomfort
  • Temporary eyestrain and headaches
  • Fatigue and stress.

Every employer has certain legal duties and obligations and must comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. The aim of the regulations are simple, to reduce the risk of employees developing any of the health problems mentioned above.

The first step in the process is carrying out a DSE risk assessment. This is normally carried out by the employee themselves by filling in a simple checklist. The checklist is usually broken down into various sub headings:

  1. Display screens – Are text and characters clear and readable? Is image stable (flicker–free)? Can you adjust the brightness and contrast? Does the screen swivel and tilt? is it free from glare and reflections?
  1. Keyboards – Does keyboard tilt? Is there a comfortable keying position? Are the characters on the keys easily readable?
  1. Mouse, trackball etc. – Is the device positioned close to the user? Is there support for the device user’s wrist and forearm? Does the device work smoothly at a speed that suits you? Can you easily adjust software settings for speed and accuracy of pointer?
  1. Software – Is the software suitable for the task?
  1. Furniture – Is the work surface large enough? Can the user comfortably reach all they need to use? Is the chair suitable and stable and is it fully adjustable? Is it adjusted correctly? Are the forearms horizontal and eyes at roughly the same height as the top of the VDU? Are feet flat on the floor?
  1. Environment – Is the lighting suitable? Does the air feel comfortable? Are levels of heat comfortable? Are levels of noise comfortable?
  1. Final Questions – Has the checklist covered all the problems that you may have working with your VDU? Have you experienced any discomfort or other symptoms which are attributed to working with the VDU? Have you been advised on your entitlement to eye and eyesight testing? Do you take regular breaks working away from their VDU’s?

There should be an ergonomic approach to workstation and job design, combined with good information and training for the user will help reduce the main risks associated with this type of work.

Some of the things to consider are when setting up a workstation are:

  • Position workstation to avoid or reduce glare and reflections as much as possible.
  • Height of chair should be adjusted so the forearms are horizontal to the keyboard.
  • Back of chair should be upright with adequate lumbar support.
  • The user’s feet should be supported, either flat on the ground or on a footrest.
  • There should be adequate leg room beneath the desk.
  • The screen should be in front of the user and approximately at arm’s length away.
  • The desk surface should be large enough to allow for all items required to do the job.

Another thing to consider is to plan work so that users take sufficient breaks from working on display screen equipment or periodically changing activity if possible.

If you feel that your working environment is causing avoidable health problems then your employers have a duty of care to address any issues and rectify any problems.

Until next time.

Lee Rance