As an employer you have a legal responsibility to protect your staff and the Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 applies to all staff who ‘habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work’.
This includes multi-site and mobile workers, not just office based staff that use computers or mobile display screen equipment (DSE).
Computers don’t hurt people…do they?
As humans, we are designed to be mobile and upright, not hunched over and static as we often are when using a computer.
Repeated and prolonged use of a computer whether it is at a desk, when you are out and about or at home, in poor posture and with the wrong equipment, can lead to being uncomfortable in the short term with general back, neck, shoulder and wrist pain.
In the long term and left untreated, this may lead to permanent damage or disability from conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, RSI and tendinitis.
Being static for periods of time can cause us to become stiff and uncomfortable and if in a poor posture, for example, hunched forward in ‘the computer hunch‘, with chin jutting out, can cause damage to the neck and upper back.
What do you need to do to protect your staff?
The aims of the regulations are to prevent injury and ill health. To avoid costly sickness absence and to demonstrate legal compliance, as an employer, you will need to be able to demonstrate you have:
- Decided who the users are
- Trained those users
- Identified and trained assessors
- Assessed the workstations and reduce the risks via
- DSE Risk Assessments
- Made sure workstations comply with minimum requirements
- For mobile workers, training and instruction should be provided to allow them to plan work activities and a rest break to ensure adequate time away from the laptop
- Made sure staff know what is going to be done, what has been done and what to do if they have a problem.
DSE assessments should not just be about ticking boxes. The benefits of effective assessments are:
- Improve productivity and quality
- Contribute to staff morale and well-being
- Reduce sickness and associated absence
- Reduce potential compensation claims