Nationwide Health & Safety Training and Assessments

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Why Do I Need A Workstation Assessment?

Written by:
Paula Coster

BA (Hons), MSc.
Associate Member CIEHF

Many of us spend our working day sitting in front of our computer screens and it has become the leading reason many of us suffer from back pain. 

  • 18% Lower limbs (86,000)
  • 40% Back (186,000)
  • 42% Upper limbs or neck (197,000)

Musculoskeletal disorders by affected area, 2017/18

If you employ DSE users,  there are several very good reasons for having a workstation or a DSE assessment carried out.

Firstly there are huge gains in investing time and effort in your workforce’s wellbeing. Employers who invest in staff comfort and health enjoy numerous proven benefits such as increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and better staff retention.

Then there’s the law. Complying with UK legislation is a legal requirement for all employers and potentially harsh penalties for employers that don’t.

Workstation assessment law

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 define an employer’s responsibility to provide a workstation assessment (DSE assessment) for anyone working regularly at a workstation.

As modes of work change along with new technology, the revised regulations now incorporate the use of laptops, mobile phones, tablets and notebooks along with new working practices if habitually used as part of regular work.

Compliance with these regulations can significantly reduce the occurrence of work-related injuries and thus reduce staff absence, improve staff morale, increase productivity and minimise the risk of legal action.

What is a workstation assessment?

A workstation assessment minimises risks to DSE users by ensuring workstations are risk assessed and that appropriate measures are taken in order to reduce any risk.

Aside from being a legal requirement, an assessment, carried out by a competent assessor, can help combat work-related injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injury, postural problems and musculoskeletal disorders.

Assessments can be carried out in-house by a suitably knowledgeable appointed staff member or you may prefer to engage the help of outside consultants. Whichever option you choose, assessments must be carried out for all DSE users as defined by the regulations, and a record of the assessments kept.*

Do I need a workstation assessment?

If you are classified as a DSE user, your employer has a legal obligation to provide you with an assessment.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 define a DSE user as someone who regularly uses a workstation for more than an hour at a time. Users include not only people working at a workstation in the office but also mobile workers, remote workers, homeworkers and users who hot-desk**.

A DSE assessment will look at the following:

  • The user  – including any existing conditions or discomfort the user has
  • The suitability of the equipment  being used
  • The task
  • The environment in which the user is working

Advice should be given on good posture and on eye tests. You should also be advised on a daily routine which includes time for breaks or changes of activity.

Sometimes, additional equipment is recommended as well such a footrest of a monitor riser. The assessor should explain why these recommendations are being made.

How often should I have a DSE assessment?

An assessment must be carried out if a new workstation is set up or new equipment is introduced. An assessment should also be repeated if the user starts to develop pain or discomfort at work.

It needn’t be complicated though…

Many organisations manage this in-house, others prefer to use an outside agency and many use an online system.  If you appoint a staff member to carry out assessments, then the appointed person should attend a DSE assessor training course.  Some organisations prefer to employ an outside agency to come in and carry out any number of assessments.  Another solution is to use an online system which guides DSE users to assess and correct their own workstation setup. If you are unsure, why not start with our free workstation assessment checklist.

Whichever method you choose, you should keep a record of each assessment and have your method written up as part of your H&S policy.

Need more help?

For help with workstation set-up and assessments, get in touch. We have:

Get your free workstation assessment checklist

Complete the form below and we’ll send you our workstation assessment checklist, written to meet HSE guidelines.