What is a DSE Self Assessment?
By law, employers are mandated to safeguard the welfare of their team from any potential hazard that can occur in the workplace. Nowadays this also includes screens and display workstations that your employees use to get their work done daily.
Devices or equipment that have display screens have grown to become an integral part of any workplace operation whether it’s laptops, cellphones, or tablets. These are called Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and those who use them in their workplace should be conducting regular assessments to ensure optimal health. According to the (Display Screen Equipment) Health and Safety Regulations, you have the following responsibilities as an employer:
- Conduct DSE self assessments
- Minimize DSE-related hazards through proper safety measures, including alternating DSE and non-DSE work from time to time
- Provision of eye tests to any worker when needed
- Train and inform your workforce on the risks associated with excessive DSE use
As the name suggests, a DSE self assessment is the evaluation of the risks associated with using DSE for an hour or more every day. Although desktop computers are the first thing that come to mind when considering DSE, there’s more to it than just checking the screen time spent looking at monitors. A DSE risk assessment also evaluates how DSE users work at their respective stations by including other forms of DSE such as laptops and smartphones alongside workstation factors like lighting, posture, and space requirements.
The overarching goal of a DSE self assessment is to evaluate the workstation in its entirety, identify the hazards of DSE use, determine the severity of its effects to the users, and reduce the risks to the lowest levels possible by changing the workstation or providing tools to make it more comfortable and safe.
This article covers the following topics:
Why DSE Assessments Are an Integral Part of Safety and Health Protection Measures
Even before the pandemic, assessing and improving working conditions have been priority tasks for most major health organizations. People’s occupations take up a significant amount of their time every day and therefore have the potential to impact an employee’s physical and mental wellbeing. DSE assessments are vital in order to determine employee health but even better is when they are carried out as preventive measures so that imminent changes can be made within the organization’s office before any harm can take place.
However, faced with home-office workstations, especially during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, where people were forced into their homes almost instantly, employees are faced with working in a whole different environment, often with work setups that are not suited for working long hours within the day. Apart from mental challenges, negative implications of this sudden home-office practice can range from decreased employee productivity and satisfaction to long-term physical health conditions.
Having your workforce scattered across the country or even the globe can make it extra challenging to identify potential health issues and solve them effectively. Although being in front of a screen may seem like a harmless thing, workplace health and safety agencies promote DSE assessments with utmost urgency and as a vital part of any health and safety management practices.
Improper workstations and a disregard or ignorance of Display Screen Equipment etiquette can result in various kinds of musculoskeletal complaints, eye strains and other health issues that worsen over time.
By having your employees fill out a DSE assessment form at least once a year, you can take a look at several factors relating to their working conditions (whether at home or the office) and establish action plans to provide a setup more suited to their needs. However as you conduct the assessment, keep in mind that a DSE workstation checklists go beyond just tick boxes to check. They are to be used as a guide that helps you achieve the main objective mandated by health and safety agencies: improve the quality of your employees’ workstations to create a healthier, more conducive environment for them.
When done right, a DSE self assessment can result in higher morale and better wellbeing of your workforce, increased productivity, decreased absences, and lower risks of musculoskeletal injuries.
The 9 Minimum Health and Safety Requirements for DSE Workstations
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work provides a directive on the minimum requirements for health and safety requirements of DSE workstations. You can use this as a guide when drafting your DSE assessment checklist to ensure you remain compliant with regulations.
Pay attention to the following 9 requirements:
1. Display Screen (Monitor)
- Characters and symbols on screens should be clear, readable, adequately spaced, and of legible size.
- Images should be of the proper viewable size, stable, and do not flicker.
- Brightness and contrast should be adjustable by the user.
- The screen or monitor should be able to swivel and tilt freely according to the needs of the user.
- The base of the screen should be adjustable. If possible, it should be separate from the base table.
- The keyboard should be separate from the screen so the user can adjust it according to the most comfortable position for him/her.
- There should be enough space in front of the keyboard to support the user’s hands and arms.
- A matte surface is recommended to avoid glare.
- The symbols should be easy to read from the user’s working position.
3. Work Surface
- The user’s desk should be large enough to allow flexible arrangements of screen, keyboard, documents, and other equipment. It should also have a low-reflectance finish to avoid unnecessary glare.
- Document holders should be stable, adjustable, and positioned strategically to minimize head and eye movements.
- The user should have enough space to work comfortably.
4. Work Chair
- The chair should be stable, as well as adjustable in height and tilt.
- Both feet of the user should be placed flat on the floor. Otherwise, a footrest should be provided.
5. Space Requirements
- The employee’s workstation should have ample space to allow for movements and changes in position.
- Satisfactory lighting conditions should be ensured, including the contrast of the screen and background should be appropriate to the work being carried out.
- Positioning of artificial light sources should take into account potential glare and reflections. Proper coordination should be done to reduce these.
7. Reflections and Glare
- Sources of light, whether natural or artificial, should not cause direct glare and distracting reflections on the screens of the equipment.
- Windows should have adjustable coverings to block daylight if it falls on the workstations.
- Any noise within the workplace should be taken into account and measures should be taken to make sure it is not distracting and disturbing.
- If noise is inevitable, noise-canceling earphones may be considered as a solution.
- Equipment must not produce excess heat that can be uncomfortable for users.
How a Digital App Helps You Create DSE Workstation Checklists
With Lumiform’s checklist app you can easily perform a multitude of health and safety inspections on the go from your smartphone or tablet – online or offline. Wherever your employees work in the world, the Lumiform app allows for easy and uniform access across the globe. Create checklists for your DSE self assessments to easily collect data and reduce and treat health threats to your employees.
- Lumiform’s flexible form builder helps you convert any paper based DSE assessment forms into a digital format within minutes that are easily accessible from anywhere in the world.
- Lumiform offers more than 10,000 ready-made templates to choose from, so that you can quickly and safely go digital. If you prefer to create your own checklists, you can modify existing ones or create them from scratch.
- With the easy-to-use mobile app you and your employees can fill in DSE assessments with ease and save time.
- All DSE assessment results are automatically summarised in a report and can be sent to responsible personnel on-the-fly so that an action plan can be devloped as quickly as possible.
- Comprehensive and automated analyses help you uncover threats and errors fast and effectively and thus allow you to concentrate on improving processes continuously.
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