What is a DSE assessment?

The safety and well-being of employees should be something that is on the mind of every employer. For a large percentage of office workers, they work with some form of display screen, whether that’s a PC or Laptop. 

As amazing as technology is, it can also come with its issues. In a workplace environment, these issues relate to the well-being and health of employees.

A DSE assessment is a perfect way to tackle these issues and put together an action plan to minimise the risks. But before we get into the details, let’s start off with the basics.

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What does DSE mean?

DSE stands for Display Screen Equipment and refers to equipment used in the workplace such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones and PCs. Working in an environment where you are working with Display Screen Equipment for extensive periods of time can cause muscular problems, fatigue and eyestrain. This leads us to our next point!

What is a DSE assessment?

A Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment involves assessing the risk involved with using screens in a working environment. Every workstation within an office should be assessed in order to reduce the number of risks involved. 

Potential risks may include, for example, back pain due to poor posture or headaches caused by looking at your screen for too long. The goal of the assessment is to identify these risks that employees may encounter and take appropriate measures to mitigate them.

How often should a DSE assessment be carried out?

It’s important for a DSE assessment to be carried out every time a workstation is set up, when a new employee starts work or when there is a significant change made to an employees workstation set-up. 

It is also worth noting if employees begin to report any discomfort or physical pain from being at their workstation then a DSE assessment should be repeated.

Why is a DSE assessment important?

A DSE assessment is important in order for the employer to fulfil their duties and responsibilities under health and safety legislation. Employees actively engaging with display screens for extended periods of the working day should complete a DSE assessment. 

So, DSE assessments are clearly important and something that should be carried out based on the existing regulations, but what benefits do they provide employees? 

By carrying out the assessment and educating your employees in good workstation set up, you will improve the health and well-being of your employees, sustain or increase productivity, minimise the risk of injury and discomfort and reduce absenteeism. After the assessment is complete, an action plan can be developed to respond to the employee's needs and prevent any potential future risks.

As well as completing a DSE assessment, employers should actively encourage employees to take short regular breaks from their workstation and take opportunities to move from a seated position to prevent fatigue, eye strain and many other issues associated with sedate posture and/or workstation use.

Who would need a DSE assessment?

You may need a DSE assessment if you fall into the following categories:

  • You work at a fixed workstation
  • You work from home
  • You are a mobile worker
  • If you change desks regularly (hot-desking)

Who carries out the assessment? 

An initial self-assessment of DSE use can be undertaken by an employee using a simple form or software solution.  The outcomes of this assessment should then be reviewed and followed up on by individuals that have been trained professionally.

Correct training is crucial to being able to successfully evaluate an assessment as the assessor needs to be able to identify hazards associated with workstation setup and make recommendations.

It’s also really important to effectively communicate the findings of the assessment and present the information to the people who need to take action.

Is a DSE assessment a legal requirement?

Both general Health and Safety legislation and specific regulations relating to DSE usage require employers to carry out risk assessments of workstations that are used in the workplace. 

The regulations state that “Every employer shall perform a suitable and sufficient analysis of workstations that: 

1. Are used for the purpose of his undertaking by the user.

2. Have been provided by him and are used for the purposes of his undertaking by operators.

So, based on this Health and Safety regulation, you should assess any workstation in your business - also applying to co-working spaces, remote working and hot-desking.

What are the health risks associated with DSE?

When working with screens, there are a number of health risks that come along with extensive use. Some possible health risks that can be caused by extensive use of Display Screen Equipment include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upper Limb Problems
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Eye Strain

These issues can be caused by a range of factors including lack of movement, poorly configured workstations, posture, working activities etc.

What can I do?

To combat these health risks, look to complete a DSE assessment. The assessment may identify that you need to consider your posture or how you configure your workstation. Checking the suitability of your equipment and furniture is also important as sometimes poorly designed office equipment can contribute to health issues.