Only Have Eyes: Employer obligations to staff working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

Eyes looking at a computer screen
Eyes become fatigued looking at a variety of screens for prolonged periods

You sit long hours at work going over data and emails, but you do the right thing and take breaks. Maybe you enjoy a walking lunch answering a work email with your smartphone. You avoid overtime and maintain a good work-life balance. Before hitting the gym, you might take five-minutes to finalise a few notes before tomorrow’s client meeting. It’s about being prepared in a healthy way.

Pretty soon you’re squinting with dry sore eyes. This leads to headaches and an overall feeling of fatigue, developing into a migraine. One day colleague Jane walks into the office concerned you’re upset about something. How come?

You may not have noticed, but you’re glaring at your screen. You may need glasses.

Time to schedule an eye test.

But how can this involve your employer?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has legislated that employers must provide an eye test for any employee who requests one if they work with display screens. Furthermore, more than your eyes require protection from Display Screen Equipment (DSE).

Many people will be further affected by working with DSE, although eyesight changes are a clear indication of an issue (or is that unclear). Incorrect use of DSE, or a working environment that is not ergonomic, will lead to pain in muscles and joints, including the back, wrists, hands, shoulders legs and eyes.

The HSE is clear that employers are obligated to protect staff from the health risks of working with DSE, such as PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Their website states the law applies if users are, for example:

  • At a fixed workstation
  • Mobile workers
  • Home workers
  • Hot-desking

If an employer requires use of DSE, then they are required to protect your health. They must:

  • Conduct a DSE Assessment
  • Reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work (including work-based smartphones) or do something different
  • Provide an eye test if a worker asks for one
  • Provide training and information for workers

A staff member may require a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Assessment, which Collingwood Health provides. We have specialists who can visit the workplace and provide the DSE Assessment, as well as make any adjustments and recommendations for new equipment.

Collingwood Health can also arrange onsite health surveillance, covering vision testing if required. We can train your staff to do their own DSE assessments, which could save you time and money.

By ensuring compliance with DSE regulations, the advantages to employee health and wellbeing become perfectly clear.