DSE Regulations

As an employer, you must protect your workers from the health risks associated with working with display screen equipment (DSE), such as PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily for continuous periods of an hour or more. These workers are referred to as 'DSE users'. The regulations do not apply to workers who use DSE infrequently or only for short periods.

How to Protect Workers' Health

By law, employers must:

Incorrect use of DSE or poorly designed workstations or work environments can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, wrists, and hands, as well as fatigue and eye strain. The causes may not always be obvious.

The law applies to users who are, for example:

Workstations and Assessment

If workers use DSE daily, as part of their normal work, continuously for an hour or more, employers must conduct a workstation assessment.

Employers should evaluate:

Where there are risks, steps should be taken to reduce them.

Employers must also perform an assessment when:

Use this DSE workstation checklist to assist in making an assessment.

DSE Assessment Software

Software packages can help train users and assist them in participating in assessments. However, the software is not a standalone assessment.

Ensure that a trained assessor reviews user assessment results (whether software-based or paper-based). The assessor should address any unclear points, provide feedback to users, and ensure issues are resolved, such as making adjustments to the DSE or workstation.

Work Routine and Breaks

The law requires employers to plan work so that there are breaks or changes of activity for employees who are DSE users.

There is no specific legal guidance on the length and frequency of breaks for DSE work. It depends on the type of work being done. Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, less frequent ones. For example, 5 to 10 minutes every hour is preferable to 20 minutes every 2 hours. Ideally, users should be able to choose when to take breaks.

In most jobs, it is possible to stop DSE work to perform other tasks, such as attending meetings or making phone calls. If a job lacks natural activity changes, employers should plan rest breaks.

Breaks or changes of activity should allow users to get up from their workstations, move around, stretch, and change posture.

Break-Monitoring Software

Break-monitoring software can remind users to take regular breaks. However, employers are still responsible for ensuring work activities are properly planned and that users take appropriate breaks.

Eyes and Eyesight Testing

The law requires employers to arrange an eye test for DSE users if they request one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them solely for DSE use.

DSE work does not cause permanent eye damage, but long periods of DSE work can lead to:

DSE work is visually demanding and can make existing eyesight problems more noticeable, including age-related changes.

Employees can help their eyes by:

Employers must assess DSE workstations and take steps to mitigate any health risks.

Eye Tests for DSE Users

An employer must provide an eye test for a DSE user upon request and cover the cost.

This should be a full eye and eyesight test by an optometrist or doctor, including a vision test and an eye examination.

Employers can decide how to provide the test, such as allowing users to arrange their tests and reimbursing them, or sending all DSE users to one optician.

Glasses for DSE Work

Employers only need to pay for glasses if the test shows the employee requires special glasses prescribed for the specific distance at which the screen is viewed. If an ordinary prescription is sufficient, employers are not obligated to pay for glasses.

Training and Information

Employers must provide health and safety training and information for DSE users. Training should cover the risks of DSE work and how to avoid them through safe working practices. This includes:

Employers should also inform users about the general health and safety arrangements for DSE work and how to apply for an eye test.