Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Safety
Why DSE assessment is important
- Many of us spend most of our working day at a computer or other DSE workstations. Aches and pains through prolonged use of DSE are very common, and if allowed to continue can lead to permanent harm. A few simple adjustments can make you more comfortable and prevent ill health.
- The University is required by law to ensure that employees who use computers are trained in their safe use and have their workstation assessed for risk to their health. Employees are also required by law and under the University’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy to cooperate with this process by completing the online course and self assessment.
What DSE users need to do
Employees need to
complete the University’s online computer safety course. It will take you about
30 minutes to complete the course and the quiz at the end. The course is self-enrollable
you will need an enrolment key word which you can obtain from your DSE
Facilitator or Departmental Administrator. You can also send an email to
Once you have done the course you need to complete a DSE Self Assessment form. This can be accessed via the course or by following the link below. Once you have done the assessment pass it to your DSE Facilitator (see link below).
DSE Self Assessment form (doc) (updated April 2013)
Safe use of DSE guidance sheet (pdf)
Using a Computer Leaflet (pdf)
What about students?
There is no requirement in law for students to complete a DSE assessment. However they should still follow the good practice outlined in the Safe Use of DSE guidance sheet and the Using a Computer leaflet to avoid aches and pains. Guidance for pregnant staff and students can be found further down this page.
What are DSE Facilitators?
DSE Facilitators are employees who have been appointed by your Department / Section to help ensure that any actions arising from your DSE Self Assessment are taken. See DSE Roles and Responsibilities below for more details of what they do.
The HSAS runs DSE Facilitator courses,
details of which can be found by following the Induction and Training link
on the left of this page.
If you need to attend a course, contact HSAS (e-mail safety or tel: 2944). Further information about the course
content can be found by following the Induction and
DSE roles and responsibilities (pdf)
DSE Policy: Working with Display Screen Equipment (pdf)
Through visiting employee workstations and discussing their assessments with them, we have found these to be the most common problems:
- Employees not taking sufficient breaks form DSE work: Sitting in the same position for hours is bound to lead to aches and pains. Taking short (5 – 10 minute) breaks from DSE work will help you to work more efficiently and reduce the risk of harm
- Sitting too low: Unsurprisingly people adjust their seat so that their feet are flat on the floor, but for many people this means their arms are too low for the keyboard, resulting in hunched shoulders and leading to and neck and shoulder pain. Raise your chair so that your lower arm is level with the middle row of keys with a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Keep your wrists straight and don’t rest your arms or wrists on the desk while using the keyboard. If you can’t rest your feet comfortably on the floor you need a foot rest.
- Discomfort from using the mouse: People often suffer from pain in their right arm, shoulder or hand. This may be because they stretch their arm to reach the mouse or grip the mouse tightly. Place the mouse close to you, so that it can be used with a relaxed arm and straight wrist. It can help to support your arm lightly on the desk surface. If you still find using the mouse awkward, you could try a different shaped or sized one, or another device such as a trackball. A mini keyboard (i.e. one that doesn’t have the number pad on the right hand side) can also be useful, as it will allow you to bring the mouse closer to you.
- Headaches and blurred vision: This is often caused by prolonged use of the computer. Glare on the screen, bright areas (e.g. windows) in the field of view or a dirty or unclear screen can also lead to eye strain. So take regular breaks, use blinds to shield windows and keep your screen clear. Also, as we get older our eyesight gets worse. You are likely to notice this most when working on the computer. If you use the computer regularly as part of your work you can have an eye test paid for by the University. We will also pay for spectacles, if needed for DSE use. Follow the link below to
- Pregnancy: If you are pregnant you will need to review your DSE assessment to incorporate the need for more posture related issues. Follow the links below for guidance on risk assessment for pregnancy and guidance on adjusting your workstation as your body enlarges.
Additional support for long-term musculoskeletal injuries or disabilities is available from the Occupational Health Service. A management referral form should be completed and sent to the Occupational Health Office or phone extn 2399 for more advice.
Find out more about the safe use of DSE
The Health and safety Executive (HSE) has produced guidance on the safe use of DSE. See www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/index.htm