As an employer, you're responsible for the comfort and safety of your team – and that includes their workstation and display screen equipment (DSE) set-up. Any employees that use screens continuously for an hour or more each day are classified as DSE users. Therefore, to reduce the risk of workplace injury, you need to arrange a DSE assessment in line with Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations. These regulations also apply in other countries around the world, so don't be caught out if you're working overseas.
But with so many options available, how do you know which ones are most suitable for your team?
According to HSE statistics, 470,000 employees in the UK have work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Continual repetitious movement, force concentrated on the wrist and hand, and fixed or constrained body positions all contribute to common desk injuries.
A DSE assessment looks at:
According to HSE regulations, employers must arrange a DSE assessment:
The type you opt for will depend on the employee’s location as well as other factors such as your team size and any unique circumstances.
An in-person DSE assessment is a 1:1 session in the workplace that focuses on the health and well-being of your staff. Assessors will review the employee’s workstation setup, take key measurements and make recommendations about posture and work processes.
If you have a larger team and it isn’t possible to offer them one-to-one workstation assessments (in-person or virtual), then an online DSE self-assessment is the fastest way to achieve DSE compliance. We would normally consider online DSE self-assessments for employers with over 20 employees and we would strongly encourage self-assessments for employers with over 50 employees. With greater than 50 employees the administrative burden and complexity becomes too much to manage easily and ensure that you are compliant.
Your team members will use purpose-built DSE assessment software to answer questions about their desk set-up. The software will deliver training tailored to them and give them an action plan based on their responses so that the employee is empowered to ensure their own wellbeing when at home or the office. Of course even the most advanced software cant handle complex issues like RSI, nor should it. High risk cases like employees with repetitive strain injuries and other serious conditions will be flagged up so that they can be given extra attention.
These online self-assessments are easy and convenient for employees to complete. The software also allows employers to track and manage multiple assessments across office and WFH workplaces.
A virtual workstation assessment is suitable for all employees wherever they work and is a convenient alternative to an in-person evaluation. Using familiar video conferencing technology, an assessor delivers a thorough DSE assessment that minimises disruption but comprises the same level of detail as a 1:1 session.
Virtual workstation assessments are ideal for those who work from home.
Remember, as an employer, you have the same responsibility to people working from home as office-based employees. A home working DSE assessment streamlines the process, allowing your business to achieve full compliance with HSE guidelines.
Employees with underlying medical issues, backache, upper limb disorders or other needs requiring in-depth attention will benefit from an ergonomic assessment. This type of advanced ergonomic assessment is carried out by a NEBOSH-qualified assessor and may take up to an hour. A detailed follow-up report includes actionable advice on risk mitigation and management.
As you may imagine, this type of workstation assessment is suited to a specific team member. Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the body and expectant employees may need additional physical support. However, a pregnant worker DSE assessment also gives you the chance to care for and engage with your team member more effectively.
Employees with an incorrect workstation setup are at risk of a host of discomforts. From eye strain, headaches and mental fatigue to neck ache, back pain, and wrist problems, these issues often worsen over time.
Any DSE assessment should therefore cover four critical steps to identify risks before they become more significant injuries:
However, you also need to consider the size of your teams, their work environments and whether they need additional support.
For example, are you arranging an annual DSE assessment across all your teams? An in-person or virtual DSE assessment ensures HSE compliance and delivers readily actionable advice from a fully-qualified assessor.
Do you need workstation assessments for a specific reason, e.g. injury, pregnancy or because your staff members require additional support with ongoing conditions? A DSE assessment is part of your duty of care to ensure your staff feel cared for and valued. In addition, an ergonomic assessment provides employee comfort and ensures best practice.
Other factors to consider when choosing the correct DSE assessment for your workforce include the following: