In today’s modern workplace, where many of us spend hours glued to our computer screens, ensuring the health and well-being of employees is paramount. One key aspect of this is conducting Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments. These assessments, mandated by law in the UK under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, aim to identify and mitigate the risks associated with prolonged computer use. Let’s delve into what’s involved in a DSE assessment in the office.

What is a DSE Assessment?

A DSE assessment is a systematic examination of an employee’s workstation to ensure it is ergonomically designed and set up to minimise the risk of discomfort, strain, and injury. It covers various elements, including the workstation setup, furniture, equipment, and working practices.

Importance of DSE Assessments

Prioritising DSE assessments is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Employee Well-being: Sitting in front of a computer for extended periods can lead to various health issues, such as eye strain, musculoskeletal problems, and stress. A well-conducted DSE assessment can help identify and address these issues, enhancing employee comfort and productivity.
  2. Legal Compliance: Employers in the UK are legally obligated to conduct DSE assessments for employees who regularly use computers as a significant part of their work. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and legal repercussions.
  3. Risk Management: By identifying and mitigating potential hazards associated with computer workstations, DSE assessments contribute to risk reduction in the workplace, promoting a safer working environment.

Key Elements of a DSE Assessment

  1. Workstation Setup: This involves evaluating the arrangement of the desk, chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals to ensure they are positioned correctly to support comfortable and efficient work. Factors such as monitor height, keyboard placement, and chair ergonomics are assessed and adjusted as necessary.
  2. Seating: The assessment includes examining the suitability of the chair in terms of adjustability, lumbar support, and comfort. Proper seating promotes good posture and helps prevent back pain and related issues.
  3. Display Screen Equipment: Assessors check the quality and positioning of computer screens to minimise glare, flicker, and other visual discomforts. Screen brightness, contrast, and font size may be adjusted to optimise readability and reduce eye strain.
  4. Lighting: Adequate lighting is essential for a comfortable and productive workstation. Assessors evaluate the lighting conditions in the office, including natural and artificial lighting, to ensure they are appropriate for computer work and do not cause glare or reflections on screens.
  5. Breaks and Posture: The assessment includes discussions on the importance of taking regular breaks and adopting good posture habits. Employees are encouraged to incorporate micro-breaks, stretching exercises, and changes in posture throughout the workday to alleviate muscle tension and fatigue.

Office assessment

Conducting the Assessment

Employers can assign trained individuals within the organisation to conduct DSE assessments or enlist the services of external professionals specialising in workplace ergonomics. The assessment process typically involves:

1. Pre-assessment Questionnaire

Employees may be asked to complete a questionnaire addressing their workstation setup, working habits, and any existing discomfort or health issues related to computer use. This provides valuable insight into individual needs and concerns. The pre-assessment questionnaire serves as a valuable tool to gather information about employees’ workstation setups, working habits, and any existing discomfort or health issues related to computer use. It helps assessors tailor the DSE assessment process to individual needs and concerns. Here are some key areas that should be covered in the pre-assessment questionnaire:

A. Personal Information:
  • Name, department, job title, and contact details of the employee.
  • Any previous history of discomfort, pain, or injury related to computer use.
B. Workstation Setup:
  • Description of the employee’s workstation setup, including the type of desk, chair, and computer equipment used.
  • Details about the positioning of the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals.
  • Information about the chair’s adjustability, lumbar support, and overall comfort.
  • Any existing ergonomic accessories or modifications in use, such as footrests, wrist rests, or monitor stands.
C. Working Habits:
  • Typical duration and frequency of computer use during a typical workday.
  • Break patterns and habits, including the frequency and duration of breaks taken.
  • Whether the employee engages in tasks that involve prolonged periods of keyboard or mouse use.
D. Health and Comfort:
  • Any discomfort or symptoms experienced during or after computer work, such as eye strain, neck pain, backache, or wrist discomfort.
  • Factors that exacerbate discomfort, such as screen glare, awkward postures, or repetitive tasks.
  • Any existing health conditions or disabilities that may impact workstation ergonomics or require special accommodations.
E. Environmental Factors:
  • Details about the lighting conditions in the workspace, including natural and artificial lighting sources.
  • Any issues related to temperature, humidity, noise, or air quality that may affect comfort and productivity.
F. Additional Comments or Concerns:
  • Space for employees to provide any additional information, concerns, or specific requests regarding their workstation setup or working conditions.


2. On-site Evaluation

The assessor visits the employee’s workstation to conduct a thorough examination, take measurements, observe work practices, and discuss any issues or adjustments needed.


3. Recommendations and Action Plan

Based on the assessment findings, recommendations are made to improve the workstation setup and working practices. This may include adjusting furniture, providing ergonomic accessories, or implementing changes in work routines. An action plan is developed to address identified issues systematically.


4. Follow-up and Review

Periodic follow-up assessments may be conducted to monitor the effectiveness of implemented measures and address any new concerns that arise. Regular reviews ensure ongoing compliance with health and safety regulations and support continuous improvement in workstation ergonomics.

DSE Workplace Safety

Incorporating DSE assessments into the workplace health and safety framework is essential for promoting employee well-being, compliance with legal requirements, and risk management. By addressing ergonomic factors related to computer workstations, these assessments contribute to a healthier, safer, and more productive work environment. Employers should prioritise DSE assessments and provide the necessary support to ensure the comfort and safety of their employees.