How to use DSE to Boost Productivity (Display Screen Equipment Regulations)

Do more with DSE management

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Discover how to use DSE in the workplace and at home. And, more importantly, how to use DSE to help boost productivity…

Keeping staff safe through good health and safety measures can help boost profits. Even whilst employees are working from home.

Workplaces that prioritise the wellbeing of their staff have found increases in productivity. Ultimately, companies then go on to realise an increase in profitability.

Using health and safety to assess and determine the course of action can also provide tax savings. Equipment and materials identified as requirements under health and safety legislation are often tax deductible! We’ll touch more on how health and safety can help your business be more tax efficient later on…

So what do staff do at home and which regulations apply?

Well, most likely staff are able to work from home due to their ability to use technology and still achieve productive work for the company.

A full blown desktop PC, a laptop or even an iPhone. Use of such equipment for work activities falls under DSE…

What is DSE?

We love acronyms and this topic no exception! A health and safety regulation, DSE protects workers who sit in front of display screens for lengthy period of time.

DSE Health Effects

Potentially great legislation to teach Xbox enthused young adults, DSE stands for ‘Display Screen Equipment’. And it references the ‘Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992‘.

Being in place since 1992, DSE is certainly nothing new. However, as is with much legislation, many business owners are unaware of it. And, even more are unaware of the ease and/or benefits of compliance.

Increasing productivity with DSE management

For those amongst us who regularly use a computer, we will all be familiar with the building stiff neck, slight back ache, or build up of bad posture. Did you know that these aches and pains are a direct cause of how we are using your laptop, computer or mobile device. Or “DSE equipment” as the professionals would call it.

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Reducing injuries

By properly assessing how staff currently use their devices, we can avoid this gradual build up of aches and pains. Whether they’re using their device in or out of the workplace.

Aches and pains, although may not seem much at first, can build up. Resulting in prolonged injury and increased absence levels. DSE management aims to keep staff safe and reduce such risks.

Oh, and the professionals have a name for the gradual build up of aches and pains. They call them MSD’s…

Whoah, hang on, what is a MSD?

MSD’s are aches and pains that build up over a long time and persist for a long time.

To the professionals, MSD stands for ‘Musculoskeletal Disorders’. To everyone else, it’s aches and pains that won’t go away for while (or ever in some cases).

With that clarity, it’s clear that MSD injuries would be unpleasant for both parties. Brought about by repetitive action, MSD injuries are common amongst users of display screen equipment. Therefore managing DSE management makes sense for every organisation that uses technological devices.


Notably, 1 in 5 back pain sufferers have given up their job or moved to reduced hours to recover from their injury.

The impact of an injury is both painful for the employee and the employer. Many injuries often resulting in legal cases that bring about extra costs to the business as well as potential negative impacts on reputation.

As well as MSDs, what other injuries can occur from being sat in front of a screen all day?

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“Your eye’s will go square!”

“Your eye’s will go square!” (For those of us that are young enough) that’s what our Mums used to say. But does sitting in front of a screen all day really damage our eyesight?

A simple observation

Our perception of depth is something quite remarkable. With our two eyes we can observe that an object is further away or closer to us. And our eyes have evolved to allow us to see distant objects by simply focusing on them.

Now picture a flat image on a PC screen. You can see the foreground where the camera has focussed, but no matter how hard you try, you cannot focus in on the background – it’s already a fixed blurry part of the image. Our eyes and brain will no doubt be trying to find focus on this blurry part of the image, but alas we will not find it.

Cenheard, Use of a DSE, Look into the distance

On balance, is there any evidence that display screen can damage our eyesight? Not a the moment anyway. However, researchers say that the number of children, aged 13 to 16 years, who need glasses has doubled in the last 10 years.

Whilst scientists have still to prove that display screens have a detrimental effect on eyesight. We do know that displays screens are something that our eye have not evolved to seeing. And, as we all know, damage to your eyesight is not something you’ll “get over” very quickly.

Here are 8 signs that you need glasses…

Infographic 8 Signs you need new glasses
By the way…

The HSE recommends that DSE users have regular eye tests. Consequently staff eye tests and any resulting eyewear are tax deductible. Leaving no excuse for not carrying out eye tests.

For example:

If an eye test identifies that you need glasses to use display screen equipment; the company can claim back the eyewear purchase.

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Additional benefits of DSE management

Firstly the aim of DSE is to avoid MSD and/or eyesight injuries. As discussed above, these are injuries that last and as such are not acceptable in a moral or financial sense.

Managing DSE minimises MSD type injuries, mitigates prolonged pain for the staff members and contributes to significantly reduced absence rates.

Workstation ergonomics

First thoughts – “this is going to cost a lot in office furniture”. Fear not, it’s not as bad as it first appears…

The primary objective here is simple. Ensure staff are comfortable and are able to position themselves correctly in order to avoid a MDS type injury over time.

When staff are comfortable and using their device correctly, it’s likely that they will….

  • be more productive.
  • produce a higher quality work more consistently.
  • maintain concentration and overall attention span.

All of which is good for business. So what about the immediate financial costs?

Workstation improvement costs

Always start with a risk assessment. Following the required actions may not cost a thing yet you will become legally compliant. Awareness and training could be effective enough to mitigate the identified risks.

Cenheard DSE Awareness Course

“Develop both competence and confidence to carry out suitable assessments in relation to Display Screen Equipment…”

Purchases made under legislative health and safety requirements are tax deductible (in most cases). So you can realise a reduced tax bill if you improve health and safety within your workplace.

(Toolbox Talk) Using Display Screen Equipment, The Issues You Control

“Gain an awareness of the hazards associated with using Display Screen Equipment (DSE)…”

Work environment

A few simple changes to the work environment can go a long way to mitigating the risks of visual fatigue, mental stress and strain injuries.

Here are a few quick checks you can do to improve your work environment:

  1. Is the lighting suitable, eg not too bright or too dim to work comfortably?
    • Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent intrusive light and glare
    • Adjust screen and brightness and contrast
  2. Is there enough room to change position and vary movement?
    • Make sure there is space under the desk to move legs.
    • Space is needed to move, stretch and fidget.
  3. Are levels of heat comfortable?
    • Can users be moved away from the heat source?
    • Can heating be better controlled?
    • More ventilation or air conditioning may be required if there is a lot of electronic equipment in the room

It all starts with a risk assessment

DSE workstation setup

Click here to view the full HSE, DSE risk assessment.

As with all aspects of health and safety – we must first start with a risk assessment. Just a minute, don’t panic here. We’re not talking about a high school style, hand written, lengthy old document that no one will ever revisit (apart from maybe your good ol’ Mum).

No. A proper health and safety risk assessment works with you as a process of identifying and managing risks to your business.

Toolbox Talk, Risk Assessment Awareness, Failures

Risk assessments are (or should be) living and breathing documents! Constantly used, reflected upon, and ultimately operate as an enabler for good old action.

Driven by common sense and shared learnings. Risk assessments have evolved to focus on action. In order to make a workplace safer, and ultimately more sustainable.

To learn more about how Cenheard risk assessments are helping to change business for the good, contact us directly to discuss the Cenheard way of embedding health and safety!

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In conclusion, we’ve shown that it is possible to utilize health and safety legislation, like DSE, to identify and implement business improvement opportunities.

At Cenheard we believe that Health and safety should be a force for driving action. Helping businesses to grow, strengthen and become more sustainable for the long run.

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What does DSE mean?

For business owners and employees alike; DSE is simply a reference to legislation that’s been put in place, to minimise the risks of being sat in front of a computer for lengthy periods of time.

What is a DSE assessment?

A DSE risk assessment works with you as a process of identifying and managing risks to your business that may arise from employees being sat in front of a computer for lengthy periods of time.

What is a DSE user?

Anyone who uses DSE (Display Screen Equipment) on a daily basis, for an hour or more, are classed as a DSE user.

Who needs a DSE assessment?

Anyone who uses DSE (Display Screen Equipment) on a daily basis, for an hour or more, are classed as DSE users and therefore must conduct a DSE assessment.

What are DSE hazards?

These are hazards that arise from the regular use of DSE (Display Screen Equipment). Such as; repetitive strain injuries (RSI), musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), mental stress and visual fatigue.

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