What is the purpose of this legislation?
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations outline what employers must do to protect their employees from any risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) (i.e. computers and laptops).
Incorrect use of DSE or poorly designed workstations or work environments can lead to pain in necks, shoulders, backs, arms, wrists and hands as well as fatigue and eye strain.
The DSE regulations only apply to employers whose workers regularly use DSE as a significant part of their normal work (daily, for continuous periods of an hour or more), therefore leaving them at risk from associated health problems and injuries, such as repetitive strain. These workers are known as DSE users.
These regulations do not apply to workers who use DSE infrequently or for short periods of time.
Who is responsible for compliance and what needs to be done?
Employers must protect workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE), such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The law applies if users are, for example:
- do a DSE workstation assessment (or, where hot-desking takes place, workers should be trained to carry out basic assessments for their own benefit on a regular basis);
- reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work or do something different intermittently;
- provide an eye test if a worker asks for one;
- provide training and information for workers; and
- review the assessment when the user or DSE changes.
Refer to our risk topic page about musculoskeletal disorders arising from use of DSE for guidance, assessment templates and useful links that can help duty holders and workers prevent associated injuries and illnesses.
Risk assessments carried out for DSE should be used to decide what needs to be done and check that action is taken. Significant findings should be recorded in a simple manner and with a focus on controls.
Businesses that have fewer than five employees don’t have to write anything down, but it can useful for reviews at a later date and if/when something changes. Businesses that have five or more employees are required by law to write down what has been done to assess and control the risks from use of DSE.
All employees must be consulted, in good time, on health and safety matters, including risk assessments and controls relating to use of DSE.
In workplaces where a trade union is recognised, this will be through union health and safety representatives. In non-unionised workplaces, employers can choose to consult either directly or through other elected representatives.