Health and Safety Policies and Guidance
The policies and guidance in this section have been developed to keep us safe in the workplace. Please ensure you are aware of the policies and guidance for your work area and if you have any concerns or comments in relation to these, please raise them with your line manager.
Health and Safety Policy
Fire Safety Policy
Fire Safety Guidance
Display Screen Equipment Assessment Guidance
Checklist Guidance Notes
These Guidance Notes will help you to comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 and explains what as an employer, we may need to do to protect employees from any risks associated with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) (i.e. computers and laptops).
These 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). These workers are known as DSE users.
These Regulations do not apply to workers who use DSE infrequently or for short periods of time. However, the controls described in ‘How to control the risk’ may still be useful for these workers.
What is DSE?
DSE are devices or equipment that have an alphanumeric or graphic display screen and includes display screens, laptops, touch screens and other similar devices.
What are the health risks with DSE?
Some workers may experience fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache from overuse or improper use of DSE. These problems can also be experienced from poorly designed workstations or work environments. The causes may not always be obvious and can be due to a combination of factors.
Consulting employees on DSE
Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Collaboration with employees help to manage the potential health problems associated with DSE in a practical way by:
- helping spot the risks;
- making sure health and safety controls are practical;
- increasing the level of commitment to working in a healthy way.
Consultation involves employers not only giving information to employees, but also listening to them and taking account of what they say before making health and safety decisions.
How to control the risk – Using the DSE workstation checklist
As an employer, we need to assess the risks associated with using DSE equipment and any special needs of individual staff. Please use the DSE workstation checklist. This gives practical guidance on workstation assessments and is designed to encourage users to take an active part by filling in the checklist themselves.
We will use your assessment to decide what needs to be done and check that action is taken.
We will keep a record of your significant findings. Any record produced should be simple and focused on controls. We are required by law to keep them. Few workplaces stay the same, so it makes sense to review what we are doing on an ongoing basis.
The risks from DSE can be controlled using the following straightforward, low-cost controls.
The following may help users:
- Forearms should be approximately horizontal and the user’s eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen.
- Make sure there is enough workspace to accommodate all documents or other equipment. A document holder may help avoid awkward neck and eye movements.
- Arrange the desk and screen to avoid glare, or bright reflections. This is often easiest if the screen is not directly facing windows or bright lights.
- Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent intrusive light.
- Make sure there is space under the desk to move legs.
- Avoid excess pressure from the edge of seats on the backs of legs and knees. A footrest may be helpful, particularly for smaller users.
Keyboards and keying in (typing)
- A space in front of the keyboard can help you rest your hands and wrists when not keying.
- Try to keep wrists straight when keying.
- Good keyboard technique is important – you can do this by keeping a soft touch on the keys and not overstretching the fingers.
Using a mouse
- Position the mouse within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.
- Sit upright and close to the desk to reduce working with the mouse arm stretched.
- Move the keyboard out of the way if it is not being used.
- Support the forearm on the desk, and don’t grip the mouse too tightly.
- Rest fingers lightly on the buttons and do not press them hard.
Reading the screen
- Make sure individual characters on the screen are sharp, in focus and don’t flicker or move. If they do, the DSE may need servicing or adjustment.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
- Make sure the screen surface is clean.
- When setting up software, choose text that is large enough to read easily on screen when sitting in a normal comfortable working position.
- Select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on a blue background, or vice versa).
Changes in activity
Breaking up long spells of DSE work helps prevent fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache. As the employer you need to plan, so users can interrupt prolonged use of DSE with changes of activity. Organised or scheduled rest breaks may sometimes be a solution.
The following may help users:
- Stretch and change position.
- Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
- Change activity before users get tired, rather than to recover.
- Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones.
Timing and length of changes in activity or breaks for DSE use is not set down in law and arrangements will vary depending on a particular situation.
These same controls will also reduce the DSE risks associated with portable computers. However, the following may also help reduce manual handling, fatigue and postural problems:
- Consider potential risks from manual handling if users have to carry heavy equipment and papers.
- Whenever possible, users should be encouraged to use a docking station or firm surface and a full-sized keyboard and mouse.
- The height and position of the portable’s screen should be angled so that the user is sitting comfortably and reflection is minimised (raiser blocks are commonly used to help with screen height).
- More changes in activity may be needed if the user cannot minimise the risks of prolonged use and awkward postures to suitable levels.
Providing eye tests and any necessary spectacles for DSE work
There is no evidence to suggest that DSE work will cause permanent damage to eyes or eyesight. Eye tests are provided to ensure users can comfortably see the screen and work effectively without visual fatigue.
If a user or a potential user requests an eye test we are required to facilitate one.
Users are entitled to further tests if DSE work is considered to cause them visual fatigue and at regular intervals after the first test.
The arrangements to facilitate an eye and eyesight tests should be requested through your line manager. You can get your eyes examined free of charge by any optometrist in Scotland who provide NHS services.
DSE assessments need to be reviewed when:
major changes are made to the equipment, furniture, work environment or software:
- users change workstations;
- the nature of work tasks change considerably;
- it is thought that the controls in place may be causing other problems.
This guidance was taken from a web-friendly version of HSE’s leaflet INDG36(rev4), published 04/13
Occupational Risk Assessment Guidance
Occupation Risk Assessment Guidance is available on the Scottish Government website and can be accessed from the External Links section below.