Display Screen Equipment
Musculoskeletal disorders are often caused by poor ergonomics, which quite simply means the interrelationships between people, the workplace and the equipment used to carry out work. In practical terms, this means poor workstation design, incorrect posture, sitting in one position for long periods, repetitive movements or a combination of all four. With the increased use of technology in dental practices, staff are spending longer hours using display screen equipment than ever before. Most dental practices are computerised to some degree either in the clinical or office area or both; so, all dental staff are potentially exposed to the risks. However, it could be said that the level of risk in dentistry is relatively low because of the nature of the business and the fact that staff do not necessarily spend long periods of time at a computer workstation. Therefore, the legal duties placed on employers may not apply in dentistry. Although the risk may be quite low, it is important to consider any potentially adverse effects to ensure the health and well-being of staff while at work. This can be achieved by using a risk assessment approach to identify any problems and put appropriate measures in place to improve working conditions.
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
Employers have a general duty to their employees, so far as is reasonable, to provide and maintain equipment and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended):
Employers are required to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment on workstations used by ‘users’ or ‘operators’ and ensure that workstations meet basic requirements.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
Employers must undertake suitable and sufficient assessments of risks to the health and safety of employees and implement reasonable controls.
It is important to have an understanding of the key terms used throughout the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations in order to determine if the regulations apply. The regulations require employers to ensure that all workstations meet certain minimum requirements by doing the following:
- Carry out suitable and sufficient analysis of workstations (risk assessment).
- Ensure that equipment provided meets legal requirements.
- Plan activities and provide breaks or changes in work activity to reduce employees′ workload on that equipment.
- For DSE users provide, on their request, an eyesight test carried out by a competent person.
- Provide information and training.
The following key terms will help to decide if the regulations apply, in particular, with reference to user and operator and whether analysis and assessment of workstations needs to be addressed.
- Display screen equipment – any alphanumeric or graphic display screen
- DSE user – an employee who habitually uses DSE as a significant part of his/her work
- DSE operator – a self-employed person who habitually uses DSE as a significant part of his/her work
- Habitual use – continuous use for spells of an hour or more
- Significant part of his/her work – daily use of the DSE
- Workstation, the arrangements of equipment including the display screen and any accessories, office equipment, work chair and desk, work surface and the immediate surrounding work area
When deciding whether your staff are classed as users or operators it is useful to look at the following job examples which have been adapted from the regulations:
Definite Users or Operators
- Data input operator
Criteria – uses equipment continuously for spells of an hour or more, uses DSE daily, high dependency on the DSE and has little choice on whether or not to use the DSE.
May be Users or Operators
- Receptionist (first example)
- Client manager
- Technical adviser
Criteria – may use equipment continuously for spells of an hour or more, uses DSE daily, may have high dependency on the DSE and has little choice whether or not to use the DSE.
Not Users or Operators
- Receptionist (second example)
- Senior managers (infrequent use to generate statistics)
Criteria – does not use continuously for spells of an hour or more, does not us/>