As an employee of a company:
It is your right to be provided with a safe, injury free environment in which to perform your work if you use Display Screen Equipment )DSE) for more than an hour at a time. Working in this environment, your employer can expect you to perform your tasks efficiently, effectively and injury free.
Many employees who use their DSE for more than an hour at a time will not experience any problems or ill-effects from using Visual Display Units (VDU), but in some instances this may not be the case. Some employees can suffer work related injuries from the use of their computer equipment which are known as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).
What is a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) user?
Someone who uses DSE continuously or near-continuously for 1 hour or more at a time.
Someone who uses DSE on a daily or near-daily basis for an hour or more at a time.
A user who has to apply high levels of concentration when using DSE.
A user who is very dependent on DSE and has no option but to use it. This criterion also includes part-time workers and those who work from home.
What is Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)?
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) refers to work-related injuries to the muscles, tendons, nerves and soft tissue in the upper limbs. It usually affects the neck, shoulders, forearms, elbows, wrists and / or hands. RSI is a painful and potentially debilitating condition that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage.
The most significant risk factors for RSI include:
carrying out repetitive tasks for long periods without suitable rest breaks
poor posture or activities that require you to work in an awkward position
poor working environment setup
RSI is most commonly caused by repeated actions that are carried out on a daily basis over a long period.
What can the symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) be?
RSI symptoms can vary but often include:
Pain or tenderness
Stiffness or joint restriction
Tingling or numbness
Swelling in the hands or forearms
Referred pain – where the pain is felt in a different part of the body to where it is injured.
What should your employer do to prevent Repetitive Strain Injury in the workplace?
Employers have a legal duty to provide safe working condition. They also have a common law ‘duty of care’ towards their staff.
Under the Health and Safety Act, employers must carry out a risk assessment of any task or equipment that may cause injury. This includes the setup of computer equipment and workstations. For staff who regularly use computers or laptops, employers must follow the guidance given in the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations.
At the Home Office Team we provide DSE assessments to expose potential risk of injury at the workstation as part of an employers legal obligation. To find out more or if you have any questions, please complete our enquiry form and a team member will pleased to advise you further.