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DSE stands for Display Screen Equipment, it is used in the majority of workplaces, it is important to follow precautions put in place when using DSE to help reduce the risk of discomfort and pain, which can occur if someone isn’t using DSE appropriately.
It refers to a device or piece of equipment which displays graphics, letters and numbers on the screen. They can also be referred to as Visual Display Units (VDUs).
What equipment falls under the DSE definition?
A workstation is a place where work of a particular nature is carried out, often involving the use of DSE. There are certain types of equipment that fall under the DSE definition, people who use this equipment are known as a DSE user.
- Desktop computers (e.g. personal computer).
- Portable computers (e.g. laptops).
- Touch screens (e.g. tablets and notebooks).
- Other similar devices (e.g. smartphones).
- DSE used in factories and other non-office workplaces.
What is classed as a work station and what isn’t?
There are different examples of what makes up a work station, these include a Person situated in a fixed workplace, mobile workers, homeworkers and hot-desking at a shared workstation.
However there are some situations that aren’t classed as a work station, these include, DSE in driver’s cabs and on other transport, small data measurement (e.g. calculators and cash registers), typewriters and DSE provided for public use (e.g. a cash machine, or computer in a library) – because people are not employed by the DSE owner or controller.
The definition of a user
Someone that uses display screen equipment more or less continuously on it all or most of the working day.
DSE users include – Data inputting, word processing, secretary or typist, editor or journalist and a person operating and watching CCTV.
Risks to health
For a DSE user that isn’t following precautions, they could increase their risk of having musculoskeletal problems, visual fatigue and mental stress. Upper Limb Disorder (ULDs) covers a range of disorders that relate to the neck, shoulders, wrists, arms, hands and fingers.
Injuries from DSE work can vary but here are a few
- Temporary fatigue or soreness in the limb.
- Cramp – occasionally suffered by some keyboard operators.
- Chronic soft tissue disorders such as acute muscle fatigue.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) – caused by activities involving the fingers, causing pain, numbness and a burning or tingling sensation in the hand and fingers (the carpal tunnel itself is located between the wrist to the lower palm).
These can also be known as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) this covers a range of injuries that can be caused by, made worse by, or from carrying out the same movements repeatedly.
Often the causes of physical problems are associated with the work, workplace and the environment. It can also be that the employees’ needs are not being taken into consideration.
Poor posture, lack of awareness and training on the risk can also cause these injuries. If someone is working for long periods of time, isn’t sitting correctly and doesn’t have breaks can cause themselves injuries.
In the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulation 1992 it outlines the employers’ general duties.
The main requirements are
- Carry out a workstation analysis.
- Set up a safe workstation.
- Make sure breaks are scheduled in throughout the day so the person has time away from DSE.
Requirements for DSE
There are minimum requirements which have to be put into place for workstations these are outlined by the DSE regulations. These requirements help to make sure that the DSE user is comfortable at the desk and has the right equipment in order to carry out their job properly.
The minimum workstation requirements are:
- Screen guard.
Planning the perfect workstation
There are guidelines that need to be followed in order to make sure the workstation of a DSE user is comfortable for them to use. Employers can provide their employees with a workstation assessment and here they can say how they rate their work station and if they require anything else, such as a back support and screen lifters.
The screen needs to be large enough so that the images and characters are clear enough, it also means that the worker can view the screen comfortably, the image should be stable on the screen (i.e. not flickering or jittering), the screen settings should be easily adjustable – so the brightness can be adjusted to a comfortable setting for the user, the screen itself must be able to be physically adjusted so that the height and the angle of the screen can changed to suit the user, the display screen must always be kept clean, this will help improve readability on the screen, increase user comfort and reduce glare.
Although larger screens can provide various benefits, they can occupy more desk space and this can reduce the user’s screen comfort. Using a flat screen can help the user to have more desk space.
The keyboard should always be kept clean so that the keys can easily be read, when cleaning the keyboard keys make sure to get rid of the dust and bits that could have gotten under the keys, which will prevent the keyboard from not working properly and no keys should be missing on the keyboard, if they are the keyboard should be replaced immediately.
The mouse needs to be a suitable size, it needs to fit the persons hand correctly (I.e. the mouse being suitable for a right-handed or left-handed user) and mouse mats should be provided if the user would like one.
Desks, chairs and accessories
Desks must be glare free and have a low reflective surface, they must be large enough to accommodate for tasked performed there, allowing proper use of all equipment, work chairs must be stable and ensure that the user can work in a comfortable position, back supports must be provided if a person suffers from back problems and foot rests may be helpful for users that are small and are unable to rest their feel flat on the floor, however these shouldn’t be used if they are not needed, as they can result in poor posture.
Air quality and temperature
It is important to make sure that the air quality and temperature is right, if it isn’t it can cause people to get headaches, feel tired and groggy, if the office is too cold it can cause people to feel unwell and struggle to type properly.
The workplace must have windows that can be opened to circulate the air, plants can be added into the room as they can help to supply fresh air, humidifier or dehumidifier should be used to establish and maintain the right level of humidity and heaters should be provided when it is difficult to heat the entire room or due to the individual’s preference.