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WhyMonday 23 September 2019

Why working safely with computer screens is a health and safety issue.

When most people think of health and safety and the type of professions that involve risk, their thoughts probably turn to roles that involve obvious physical danger – say, construction workers climbing up scaffolding or farmers working with heavy agricultural machinery.

That, however, does not mean that the millions of people working in UK offices or at home with computers are ignored by Health and Safety directives.

In fact, employers are legally obliged to protect their workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE), such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

A recent study showed that many Americans spend more than seven hours a day staring at digital screens, and there is no reason to think that we Brits are less addicted to our screens. Not surprisingly, all that screen time can lead to blurred vision, eye strain and long-term near-sightedness.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time. The law applies if users are at a fixed workstation, mobile workers, home workers and even hot-desking

Employers must do a DSE workstation assessment and it is their responsibility to reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work or do something different. They must also provide an eye test if a worker asks for one and provide training and information for workers

Incorrect use of DSE or poorly designed workstations or work environments can also lead to pain in necks, shoulders, backs, arms, wrists and hands as well as fatigue.

If workers use display screen equipment (DSE) daily, as part of their normal work, employers must do a workstation assessment. This involves the whole workstation, including equipment, furniture, and work conditions, the job being done and any special requirements of a member of staff, for example a user with a disability. Where there are risks, they should take steps to reduce them.

Employers must also do an assessment when a new workstation is set up, a new user starts work, a change is made to an existing workstation or the way it is used, or users complain of pain or discomfort.

To avoid the perils of all that screen time, here are some basic tips to help you to achieve a healthier high-tech habit:

  • Take a blink break: look away from the screen every 20 minutes and gaze into the distance for about 30 seconds.
  • Make sure your monitor is about 14 inches away from your eyes and that your chair has a comfortable back rest for support.
  • Stand up every 30 minutes and walk around, rolling your shoulders and stretching your arms. Do some knee raises to encourage circulation.
  • Keep your mouse, desk surface, keyboard and monitor clean. Pathogens can easily grow on these surfaces. It is especially important to disinfect these areas if you are sharing the system with others.
  • When you take a break, clean off the keyboard and desk surface areas, which notoriously harbour germs.


If you have suffered a health problem because of the negligence of your employer, please contact Swindon Accident Solicitors on 01793 425595 for a FREE, no obligation consultation on how to make a claim for compensation.


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