Why are DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessments important?
The current legislation obliging organisations to carry out DSE risk assessments is the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002.
Display Screen Equipment is the most commonly used type of work equipment and there are health risks associated with its use, for example musculoskeletal upper limb disorders, including back, neck, shoulder, arm and wrist pain, visual fatigue and stress. The impact on health is usually relatively low in the short term; but can become greater in the long term if advice is not followed properly. Where best practice is implemented, for example in correctly setting up workstation the incidence of such disorders can be greatly reduced.
Carrying out DSE risk assessments not only ensures that your organisation complies with the regulations, but also improves the health, wellbeing and staff morale. Productivity can be improved by reducing absence due to sickness and the best people will be attracted and retained by employers who provide safe and healthy working environments.
How our DSE Assessment Consultants can help?
Self-assessment is frequently used as a method of identifying the hazards that can potentially cause risk to health or safety at the workstation, but there are aspects of the assessment that cannot be always be carried out by the DSE user themselves. These are often non-obvious causes of problems to do with posture and poor ergonomic set-up of equipment and it takes a competent third party to identify these risks and recommend action or appropriate ergonomic accessories to resolve them. The DSE regulations also oblige employers to train their staff in safe and healthy computer use and for this reason we would always recommend that either our experienced DSE Assessment Consultants or fully-trained employees undertake the workstation assessments.
Managing the risks
Each DSE risk assessment may identify several problems and a company-wide assessment programme may produce a long list of problems with associated follow-up actions. Our experienced assessors can deal with many problems at the time of the assessment for example, setting the screen at a comfortable viewing height or distance adjusting a chair etc. It is necessary to give the remaining problems a risk rating which ensure risk assessors deal with those problems with the greatest potential for injury first. In some cases, immediate action should be taken to resolve issues - for instance where the user is in pain and prompt action will alleviate it.
Risk can be defined as a combination of a hazard and the likelihood of that hazard occurring. If the seriousness of the hazard and the likelihood are rated on a scale of 1-3 then as a guide the scores can be multiplied to give a scale of risk rating from 1 to 9 where 9 is the highest risk and 1 the lowest risk. This should then help assessors to prioritise follow-up actions. In all cases actions should be recorded with the date when it was completed. A robust system then needs to be put in place to manage risk by monitoring future change in the levels of risk and dealing with any change.