Safe use of Display Screen Equipment appendix 3

  • OBUHSN-32 Appendix 3: Display screen equipment assessors guidance notes


    The purpose of this document is to provide information to the assessor in order that the University meets, at the very least, the minimum requirements of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations. This document should provide the assessor with sufficient information to carry out an adequate assessment of a workstation to ascertain if there are any health and safety risks to the user.

    Before carrying out DSE assessments, the assessor should have received training and read these notes in conjunction with the Health and Safety Notice OBUHSN-32. An assessment must be carried out using a workstation assessment form, Appendix 2, completed by the user. To assist in making a balanced assessment of the minimum requirements, reference can also be made to British Standard BS 7179 (European standard EN 29241, International standard ISO 9241) or any other relevant international, European or British standard, which covers the ergonomics of design and use of display screen equipment in offices.


    • The workstation user must be involved in all aspects of the assessment, and be trained, informed and supervised in the health and safety applications required to use the workstation equipment and the software provided.
    • Work organisation and job design will also require assessment. Many of the health and safety problems can be avoided or reduced if there is a variety of job activities within the working routine, there are no prolonged periods of work at the screen, and there are no long periods of high speed key-stroke work.
    • Note that formal rest breaks are not required under the regulations, but that tasks using DSE should be interspaced with tasks that use different focal lengths and alternative movements of the wrist, arm and shoulder.
    • Discussions with the user's manager may be required if problems are identified in the job design or work organisation that cannot be rectified by the users themselves.

    Display screen

    • The characters on the screen will be well defined and clearly formed, of adequate size and with adequate spacing between characters and lines.
    • The screen image must be free from flicker and there should be no distortion.
    • The screen must be easily adjustable for brightness and contrast and the user must know how to adjust it to optimise the display for the relevant light conditions at the time.
    • The colour combinations between screen background and characters must suit the user.
    • The screen should be height and tilt adjustable and turn easily to suit the needs of the user.
    • The screen must be free from any reflections or glare.
    • Cleaning materials must be made available for users to clean their screens as necessary.
    • If the screen is not of the required standard, advice should be sought from Computer Services.


    • This must be of a matt finish with no reflective glare, be separate from the display screen, and be able to tilt so that the most comfortable working position for the user can be found.
    • From the working position the symbols on the keys shall be legible and contrasting.
    • The keys should operate easily and positively and their arrangement should facilitate easy use of the keyboard.
    • The space in front of the keyboard shall be sufficient to provide support for the hands and arms of the user.
    • If the keyboard is not of the required standard, advice should be sought from Computer Services.

    Software and associated systems

    • The software must be suitable for the task, be easy to use, and within the capabilities of the user to understand.
    • The information must be displayed in an understandable format and at a speed that is acceptable to the user.
    • If there are any problems with the software or the systems, advice should be sought from Computer Services, the line manager, and/or the software supplier.

    Work desk or work surface

    • This should be adequate to accommodate the various tasks that are to be carried out and allow for flexible arrangement of display screen, keyboard, related equipment and documentation.
    • It should be non-reflective.
    • Cables should be safely stowed.
    • There should be adequate space for users to find a comfortable position.
    • To minimise eye and head movement, any adjustable document holder provided should be correctly positioned.


    To avoid the majority of physical (musculoskeletal) problems associated with the use of DSE, the correct selection of chair is most important.

    • The chair must be stable, offering adequate support.
    • It must be on castors and easily movable.
    • The seat and backrest must be adjustable in height, independently of each other, and the backrest must be able to tilt.
    • When the seat is set to the correct height with the forearms positioned approximately horizontal to the desk, the user’s feet must be flat on the floor or positioned on a footrest.
    • If the workstation furniture does not meet the requirements or appears unsuitable for DSE work, advice should be sort from the Health and Safety Division.


    • There should be adequate lighting to enable the user to read documents and other written material but not to cause screen reflection.
    • To assist in making a balanced assessment, guidance can be obtained from "Lighting at Work" [HS(G)38] published by the HSE, and "Areas for Visual Display Terminals" [LG3.1989] published by CIBSE.
    • Windows should be fitted with curtains or blinds if necessary to control the amount of light falling on the workstation.
    • If a lighting problem is identified that cannot be easily resolved by repositioning the display screen, advice should be sought from the Health and Safety Division.

    Workstation environment

    • The immediate workplace environment can contribute to working discomfort from noise and heat emitted by workstation equipment.
    • The use of a large number of DSE in offices can also contribute to low humidity.
    • Noise should be assessed so that there is no interference with verbal communication or telephone conversations, and concentration is not affected.
    • Heat and humidity may give rise to fatigue, headaches and dry throats, and these health risks must be assessed.
    • Problems with noise, heat, humidity or the general workplace environment must be addressed by seeking advice from the Health and Safety Division.

    Unresolved problems

    If problems are encountered which cannot be solved by any of the above routes, advice and guidance may be available from Faculty/directorate safety advisors, line managers, the Safety Officer and the Senior Occupational Health Advisor. If the documents referred to in the text need to be consulted, copies are available in the Safety Office.

    Assessment form

    • The user(s) will have completed the checklist part of the assessment form and any negative answer will need detailed consideration. The positive answers must also be considered in the assessment.
    • All aspects of the assessment must be entered on the form, detailing the problems found and any remedial action carried out or required.
    • The assessor must sign the form.
    • The assessment form must then be passed to the Dean or Director of a Faculty/Directorate for their approval, comment, agreement and signature.