Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (amended 2002) apply to all display screen equipment (DSE) - computer screens.
The main provisions are as follows:
1. Employers must carry out a risk assessment of workstations used by employees in order to reduce any identified risks.
2. Employers must ensure that employees take regular and adequate breaks from looking at their screens. (The CompactLaw Risk Assessment Form recommends a five-minute break to do alternative work, either at an employee's desk or away from their desk every 30 minutes.)
3. Employers must ensure that employees are aware of their entitlement to yearly eye tests, with the cost of the eye test met by the employer in full. A "competent person" must carry out any eye test - this means a qualified optician. It is advisable for an employer to keep written records of who receives free eye tests, the dates and costs of the tests. Most opticians can provide individual reminders every year of when an employee's eye test is due.
4. Employers must provide their computer users with adequate health and safety training for any workstation they work at. This basically entails showing employees how to properly adjust their chairs and desks (if adjustable) and the correct way to sit and work at their workstations.
The main problems encountered in using workstations are:
1. Tiredness caused by badly designed or adjusted workstations.
2. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Eye strain leading to headaches, fatigue and sore eyes.
These are all problems that can be prevented by using properly adjusted equipment and having and implementing a proper policy.
However, allowing these problems to go uncorrected can easily lead to reduced productivity and increased staff absence due to injury. In serious cases this can (and does) lead to claims against employers. This is usually a double blow for the employer with loss of productivity leading up to a claim and the costs of defending or settling a claim when it is made.