Are DSE risk assessments a legal requirement?

Ensuring the wellbeing of employees and minimising health risks is a fundamental objective of conducting a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) risk assessment. Employers are legally obligated to perform these assessments for employers who use the DSE as a significant part of their work and if they are using the DSE for an hour or more continuously at work.

Why is a DSE risk assessment important?

According to research by the Health and Safety Executive, 477,000 employees in Great Britain suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) with 7.8 million working days lost in 2022.

In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s easy to overlook the importance of ergonomics, but incorrect workstation setups and poor positioning of chairs, desks, keyboards, and input devices can lead to a host of chronic and acute injuries. These issues can affect various parts of the body, from the neck and shoulders to the arms, wrists and back. Sitting for prolonged periods without adequate breaks and working in a poorly designed environment, with issues like inadequate lighting, direct sunlight, or cramped spaces, can exacerbate these problems. Taking the time to assess and optimise the workspace for ergonomics can make a world of difference in comfort, productivity and long-term health.

A DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment can be instrumental in achieving this, offering numerous benefits such as reducing the risk of postural problems, injury prevention, decreasing stress and fatigue, minimising eyestrain, reducing sick leave, improving productivity and ultimately decreasing the need for work compensation.

Now, let’s delve into the five stages of a DSE Risk Assessment:
1. Identify hazard(s).

In the first step, you need to identify the hazard(s).

  • Observe the workplace environment.
  • Identify any health problems (mental and physical).
  • Ask for feedback from the employee.
  • Assess the DSE equipment.
  • Assess workload, breaks the employee takes away from their desk etc.
2. Decide who might be harmed and how.

The second step is to decide who may be harmed and how from the identified hazard(s). You may be assessing one person while you are carrying out a DSE assessment but the hazard you found could potentially harm many people.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions and preventions.

The next step is to evaluate the risks and decide how you can eliminate or minimise those risks you have identified.

Depending on your findings, you could consider:

  • Advising the employee on taking more frequent breaks.
  • Changing some of their equipment.
  • Re-organising their workstation.
  • Moving the employee to a different desk.
  • Improving lighting in the office area.
  • Refer them for an eye test.
  • Refer them to a healthcare professional.
4. Record your findings and implement them.

After the DSE risk assessment, you need to record your findings and show that you dealt with all the significant hazards and you minimised the risk of injury.

5. Review your assessment and update it if necessary.

You need to review your assessments when there is:

  • A major change to the environment or to the equipment (lighting, screen, keyboard etc.).
  • The employee’s workstation is relocated.
  • The employee’s job has significantly changed.
  • There has been a major change to the software used by the employee.

(DSE assessments should be carried out yearly, but you may need to review some employees earlier.)

For all employees whose duties involve regular interaction with Display Screen Equipment, DSE assessment and DSE training is a mandatory requirement. Our one-day accredited DSE Workstation Assessor Training Course has been designed to equip managers and health and safety professionals with the knowledge to assess individuals holistically, identify hazards and risks, educate/train employees, and apply essential ergonomic principles to prevent issues arising.

Useful links:

Do employees working from home need a DSE Assessment? 

How to stop hybrid working causing you aches and pains? 

Workplace health and wellbeing. Are you doing enough?