DSE, workstation – frequently heard terms, but what do they actually mean? They are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two distinct topics, so it is important that you have a clear understanding of each so that you don’t mix them up.
Clarity is everything when it comes to health and safety. It is important to make sure that when you are discussing hazards, risks, DSE assessments, workstations, COSHH assessments and all the rest of the terms and documents covered in this guide, you have explained at the start exactly what you are talking about. We recommend that you ask questions at the end of any health and safety discussion to satisfy yourself that everything is clear to everyone.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
Frequently asked questions
On starting work and annually thereafter. BUT, there are additional requirements: NEMs (New and Expectant Mothers - women who are pregnant and those who have given birth within the last 12 months) should complete a DSE assessment every three months. NEMs who have developed complications or have had difficult births may need to complete the assessments more frequently – you should ask the employees concerned to seek advice from their GPs or hospital consultants about this. Similarly, any employee who has suffered an injury outside work which affects how they sit at their workstation must also ask their doctor about the frequency of DSE assessments. If you find it difficult to get medical advice or have to wait a long time to receive it, adopt a common sense approach and make sure assessments are completed as often as you and the affected employee feel is appropriate. Finally, you may have workers with health conditions which can affect their comfort at work. It should be easier to get medical advice on the frequency of DSE assessments for these workers, as they are likely to be under ongoing medical care.
No. Anyone who works with the equipment continuously (i.e. every day or most days) for more than an hour a day is classified as a DSE user and must complete annual DSE assessments.
Health and safety is principally the implementation of common sense thinking. But people become nervous about breaking the law and want to have reassurance that their “common sense” approach doesn’t contravene any legislation. And unfortunately, not everyone does sit correctly in their work vehicle. Once you have a way of sitting, even if it’s incorrect, you tend to stick with it; if you are positioned in a way that could cause health problems, it will only get worse. This is particularly important for drivers who spend all day in the cab of a van or lorry. An assessment takes very little time to complete, and it can protect a driver’s health and protect you from being sued later on by a disgruntled driver with a bad back.