DSE, or Display Screen Equipment, originally referred to computer screens and laptops. It now includes tablets, smartphones, iPads, and touchscreens with graphic or alphanumeric displays.

If you use DSE for an hour or more daily, you’re considered a DSE user. Employers of DSE users have a legal obligation to comply with The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. These regulations were put in place by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to reduce the risks associated with prolonged DSE use, which can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, discomfort, and fatigue.

Keep reading as we explains the purpose of DSE assessments and  why they are important to UK employers.

The purpose of a DSE assessment

The primary objective of a DSE assessment is to ensure that a person’s workstation is optimally set up for tasks, reducing the risk of pain, injury, and fatigue, such as repetitive strain. An essential aspect of the assessment is educating both employers and employees on best practices for DSE use. For example, it emphasises the importance of taking regular breaks, not only for mental focus but also to mitigate the negative effects of prolonged sitting, which can restrict blood supply, reduce circulation, and cause discomfort and fatigue.

What happens during a DSE assessment?

DSE assessments can be conducted by trained assessors or through self-assessment and e-learning solutions. In face-to-face assessments, the assessor conducts a systematic check of the workstation, including the chair, desk, and the DSE user’s posture. Environmental factors, such as heating and lighting, are also evaluated for their impact. The user is informed of necessary adjustments and recommendations. Education is vital because adapting to new habits can take time and effort. Involving the DSE user in all stages ensures a tailored assessment for everyone.

For online software applications, employees can follow an educational course on setting up their workstation correctly and understanding the significance of good posture and movement. This is followed by self-assessment and suggested tasks to reduce discomfort.

Why DSE assessments are crucial

Even minor adjustments can make a significant difference, reducing or eliminating stress and strain on the body for DSE users. Taking short breaks every hour and performing simple stretching exercises can be the difference between a day with pain and a pain-free working day.

As working models evolve with the common practice of hybrid work, the potential for non-standard workstations has increased. It’s now typical for employees to work from dining room tables, sofas, or beds, which can lead to increased musculoskeletal issues. Importantly, working from home doesn’t exempt employers from their duty of care under DSE regulations. The regulations still apply and can be even more challenging to enforce.

It’s vital to recognise that reducing risks and improving working posture significantly impacts wellbeing and productivity. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” It’s far more effective to invest in education, DSE assessments with appropriate workstations that safeguard employee wellbeing, and reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, than to face the consequences of having demotivated staff and potential fines.

Get help with your DSE management program

Our award-winning Healthy Working program provides a customisable DSE risk assessment and eLearning for every employee. Healthy Working identifies employees at risk of suffering back pain while working and those who are already experiencing back pain. Once an employee completes the Healthy Working program they will be provided with tasks to minimise the risk of muscular skeletal injuries and improve their health and wellbeing. Find out more about Healthy Working.

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