Display screen equipment (DSE)
If you use display screen equipment (DSE) to do your work for continuous periods of more than 1 hour per day, you are considered a DSE user. Display screen equipment includes PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Working at a poorly-designed DSE workstation
The health risks of working at a poorly-designed DSE workstation include:
- musculoskeletal disorders (injuries and disorders affecting muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels)
- repetitive strain injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis)
- upper limb disorders (shoulders and neck)
- back pain
- visual fatigue
- mental stress
As a manager, you should:
- identify employees that are DSE users
- carry out a DSE risk assessment of your employees' workstations
- put in place control measures identified
- plan work activities to ensure breaks and changes in activities
- ensure eyesight tests are available to employees
You should arrange DSE User Awareness Module training for your staff. This module shows you how to use DSE safely. Training is available by logging into HSeLanD and searching for ‘Display Screen Equipment: User Awareness’
This module has 3 topics:
- Introducing DSE ergonomics
- Risks of injury from using DSE
- Adjusting your workstation
A further risk assessment is needed when:
- an employee transfers to a new workstation
- there is new work equipment or technology at an employee's workstation
Training for managers and DSE workstation assessors
Managers and DSE workstation assessors must complete training modules:
- managing health and safety in the healthcare setting
- DSE user awareness module
- DSE assessor module
These modules are available on HSeLandD
Managers should also attend a risk assessment workshop
As an employee, you should:
- take reasonable care of your safety, health and welfare
- complete the DSE user awareness module on HSeLanD
- review your risk assessments and control measures to ensure they are effective
- report any defects in work equipment to your manager
Working safely with display screen equipment
You should take a break from your screen and keyboard at least every hour. No posture is ideal if it is maintained for long periods. This does not have to be a work break. You can, for example, stand up while on the phone, do filing or photocopying.
Tips on reducing discomfort
Use your chair properly
Adjust your chair so your feet are flat on the floor or use a footrest if required.
Ensure your lower back is fully supported by the lumbar support in your chair.
Position your screen correctly
To reduce eyestrain, position your screen at least 20-30 inches from your face (at arm’s length).
To reduce neck strain, your screen should be tilted and centred directly in front of you at eye height.
Position and adjust your keyboard correctly
Awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder position may lead to discomfort or injury.
The keyboard should be placed directly in front of the screen.
Adjust the height and angle of the keyboard. Your forearms should be parallel with the floor.
Having blinds on windows can help in reducing glare.
Adjustable lighting helps to minimise glare, reduce eyestrain and headaches. To avoid glare on the screen, position the desktop light to the side of the monitor, instead of behind or in front of it.
Give your eyes a break using the 20-20-20 rule
Every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, focus on an object 20 feet away. This allows your eye muscles to rest.
You should also blink more. People blink 12 to 15 times a minute under normal conditions. Those reading on a screen blink only 7 times a minute.
Vary your position between sitting and standing
Standing even occasionally during your workday is good for your health. Make small changes by standing during phone calls and varying your activities.
Get up and move
Take a short walk during your lunch break. Send your print jobs to a location that requires you to get up and walk a short distance. Change your posture often to minimise fatigue.
Laptops and hot desking
Laptops should not be used for long periods. Your workstation should be assessed to ensure users have a comfortable working position.
Support for DSE users
If you have health problems connected with your work, you may:
- have your DSE risk assessment reviewed by your manager and identify further controls
- get referred to occupational health
- get specialist ergonomist help
To get the services of an ergonomist, your manager must have completed:
- HSElanD DSE user awareness module
- HSElanD DSE assessor module
- the DSE risk assessment form in consultation with the DSE user
You must also have completed the HSeLanD DSE user awareness module.
Procurement of this service is approved, funded and managed locally.
For more information on the OGP contract holders contact NHSF health and safety helpdesk on 1800 420 420.
Eye and eyesight testing
As a DSE user, you are entitled to an eye and eyesight test paid for by the HSE.
If the test shows that particular lenses are required for DSE work, these are paid for by the HSE. Only the cost of minimum-requirement frames and lenses is covered.
Minimum space requirements
The minimum space requirements for DSE users is 4.65m2. This includes the area occupied by the office desk and chair. It excludes filing cabinets and other office furniture.
Minimum workplace temperatures
An acceptable temperature for office work is 18C to 23C.
There is no limit set for high temperatures. Cooling down the temperature may be required based on risk assessments.
Temperatures can be controlled by:
- opening windows
- using internal blinds or external blinds
- use of energy-efficient glass
- installing local heating controls
Lighting and ventilation
Lighting can be natural and artificial.
Managers should ensure that the workplace has enough natural light and artificial lighting. This helps to avoid eye strain and shows up obvious hazards.
Windows, skylights, and glass partitions should be kept clean inside and outside.
Air conditioning and mechanical ventilation should be maintained in good working order.
Managers should ensure that the workplace is kept clean and hygienic.
You should ensure that:
- drinking water is provided in areas accessible to all employees
- suitable facilities are available for boiling water and eating meals
- adequate and suitable sanitary and washing facilities are provided and maintained
Safety checklist for office environments (Word, 53 KB 3 pages)
Guideline document re display screen equipment (PDF, 1.1 MB, 21 pages)
Sample display screen equipment risk assessment form (PDF, 587 KB, 7 pages)
Display screen equipment risk assessment (Word, 382 KB, 7 pages)
Use of DSE safety alert (PDF, 454 KB, 5 pages)
General risk assessment (Word, 47 KB, 2 pages)
Remote working risk assessment (CF:066:00) (Word 380 KB, 9 pages)
Office environment prompt sheet (Word, 50 KB, 4 pages)
Contact HSE Health and Safety helpdesk
Use the Health and Safety self-service portal or
Phone: 1800 420 420
Monday to Friday 10.30am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 3.30pm