In this guide, you’ll find all of the information you need to understand the basics of DSE Assessments and why they’re so important. We cover everything in bite-sized segments, so you don’t have to wade through the legal jargon or do any extra ‘Googling’ to find out what you need to know. We’ll start at the beginning…
Firstly, we’re going to explain what DSE actually means, as it’s a very broad term. It stands for Display Screen Equipment. This basically means any device or piece of equipment with a display screen on it - and covers both old-style screens, as well as the newer HD screens and touch-screens. Your job involves prolonged use of DSE if you spend an hour or more per day using any of the following:
· Desktop computer
· Tablet or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
· TV or CCTV screens
· Projector screens or interactive whiteboards
· Digital displays on equipment or machinery
In this day and age, many jobs require the use of DSE for all or part of the working day. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at words and numbers (alphanumerical display) or images (graphical display), or if you use a variety of different screens during a working day; it still counts as prolonged DSE use.
A DSE Assessment is a legal requirement under the Health & Safety Regulations 1992. Anyone who uses screens at work for an hour or more each day must have one. DSE Assessments may also be referred to as a ‘Workstation Assessments’ or ‘VDU (Visual Display Unit) Assessments’ and are designed to flag up any issues related to your use of screens at work. For example, your screen may be set at a height that could cause back problems for you in the future. A DSE Assessment would find this problem and help you and your employer to rectify it before long-term damage is done.
A DSE Assessment covers more than just the way you use screens – it also covers your workstation set-up in general, and is purely based on your personal wellbeing. Therefore, an assessment will also include looking at what you’re sitting on, your keyboard & mouse, the lighting, and the environment around you in general.
This may be in the form of advice about posture, instructing an employee on small desk exercises to mitigate potential problems, resources to look back on, and educating general good practice.
This can be done in person or via a video call with the employee. The assessor will look at the whole workstation, which includes any and all equipment being used, the suitability of desks and chairs, and the general work conditions (temperature, noise pollution, lighting etc.). The employee’s role will be taken into account, as well as any special requirements they may have.
Any potential problems that come up during the assessment are managed via things like employee training, on-site massage, provision of eye-tests and ergonomic equipment/supports, upgrading office furniture and being encouraged to move around more during a working day.
Of course, how you feel personally about your working environment and any issues you experience are the most important things, so it’s vital that you are open and honest about aches and pains, eyesight issues or any other workstation-related problem you may experience.
For those who sit at a desk and look at a computer for practically all of their working day, DSE Assessments should be a familiar and welcome event. If you have never had a DSE Assessment in your current role, you should request one as soon as you can.
The wellbeing of employees is what DSE Assessments are all about. We know that long-term use of a badly set-up workstation will cause both short- and long-term issues for the individual employee.
Some of the most common issues experienced by desk workers include lower back pain, eye strain, and neck strain, as well as hip and wrist issues. These problems are not always obvious right away, and someone could work in a damaging posture for years before pain presented itself. Stress and fatigue can also arise from a poor workstation set-up, which in turn can affect our immune system’s response to colds and other illnesses.
Moving around and stretching during the working day is something that is likely to come up during a DSE Assessment. This is because sitting (or standing) in the same position whilst staring at a screen for long periods of time will put a strain on your body. Doing this repeatedly day after day does have an accumulative effect, and employers who do not provide - and follow-up on - regular DSE Assessments are likely to experience considerably more sick leave within their organisation than their DSE compliant peers.
Compliance with the law is also a key part of providing DSE Assessments. Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, employers can be fined by the Health and Safety Executive for not complying.
In addition to this, they may also be litigated against by current or previous employees on an individual basis, as long-term injuries may not present themselves for some time. If DSE Regulations have not been adhered to, this could result in high legal expenses and settlements.
As a rule, a DSE Assessment should be completed as soon as possible after each of the following:
· When a new employee starts work
· When an employee moves to a new workstation
· When office furniture and devices are upgraded or replaced
· If an employee has a change in physical circumstances (e.g. pregnancy or sports injury.)
· When an employee reports concerns about their workstation
· At least every 2 years (as advised by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
Many companies do yearly DSE Assessments for all qualifying staff members to ensure full compliance, and we would also recommend yearly testing as a minimum. These assessments can be overlooked, and it’s important that all employers are aware that regular DSE Assessments are an essential undertaking. Only providing DSE Assessments for new starters or when an employee has requested one is NOT suitable or lawful, and could leave the employer open to fines or lawsuits in the future.
DSE Assessments should be provided for all employees who use DSE for an hour or more each day; whether they work in an office, work from home, or work whilst on the move.
· Improves posture
· Improves general wellbeing at work
· Boosts morale
· Prevention of future injury and musculoskeletal disorders
· Makes work easier to concentrate on/complete
· Special requirements are met, which boosts inclusivity
· Reduced sick-leave costs due to work-related injuries or illness
· Reduced admin costs
· Fewer compensation claims
· Happier workforce
· More productive workforce
· Full compliance with the law
We hope you have found this article helpful, but you may still have some questions – please feel free to reach out to one of our experts for a free consultation. Whether it’s for online DSE assessments, virtual (video) assessments, or in-person ergonomic assessments, Workhappy can help and advise you. Feel free to contact us by email at , firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 020 3858 0242.