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Employees returning to the office? DSE considerations for employers…

DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessments are something that employers usually consider when there’s a new starter in the business.  They are also generally repeated, possibly annually, so employees get a refresher on what they need to think about in terms of their equipment and desk setup.  There are, however, other times when a DSE assessment may be needed.  In this blog, we’ll be looking at how DSE assessments should be managed for those who might be returning to the office and/or working differently to a traditional 9 to 5, Monday to Friday office schedule.  It’s important to plan, because the way people work has, and will probably continue to, change. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of the usually office-based workforce were working from home, and this has led to many employees and employers rethinking where work needs to be done.  According to CIPD research, before the pandemic, 65% of employers didn’t offer regular working from home at all or offered it to less than 10% or less of their workforce. The research goes on to suggest that the number of employers not offering regular working from home opportunities will drop from 65% to 37%. The difference in how people work has led to more employees having a hybrid working arrangement and some experts believe that this may result in about 25% of working days being done remotely. 

The paragraph above gives a few examples of other times when a DSE assessment will need to be undertaken.  The first is when people are returning to the office after a long period away.  This may be due to them returning after Covid restrictions have been lifted, or after maternity leave or long-term sick leave.  Another example is for those employees who are starting hybrid working arrangements.  The reduction of people in the office has allowed some employers to reduce office space as they are asking employees to hot desk or share desks with a co-worker who works different days to them.  For these employees, it’s likely that the desk set up will be different each time they come to the office.

What checks do I need to organise?

You need to organise checks for any employees who uses display screen equipment (DSE) for more than one hour per day.  This check should include checking equipment, furniture and work conditions and needs to consider the job being done and any special requirements that the individual may have, for example, a disability.  Display screen equipment includes laptops, touch screens, display screens or any other device that has a alphanumeric or graphic display screen.  This link will take you to a very helpful workplace assessment that can be used when looking at DSE responsibilities:

How to get it right

When an employee is returning to the workplace after a long time away, as part of their return to work induction, employers should ensure that time is allocated for the employee to undertake a DSE assessment.  We suggest that the employer keeps a record of this in case required for future reference, e.g. if an employee raises a grievance about their workstation set up.

In a situation where employees hot desk, they need to be reminded of the importance of checking their workstation on a regular basis.  In fact, they should be doing a basic check every time they come into the office as the last person to use that workstation may have altered the equipment to suit their individual needs.  To help keep this towards the front of an employee’s mind, you could add laminated cards to each desk, reminding employees of the basic things that they should be checking.  Those cards could also give them the contact details of who they need to talk to if they notice a problem.  Alternatively, you could purchase an online system which would go through the relevant checks when an employee logs into their computer. 

Whichever way you decide to check the use of DSE, it’s important to remember that all employees need to do regular checks, and that the employer has a responsibility to make sure they’re done.  The health and safety regulations are law, so there’s the potential to be fined for not following them.  There’s also a risk of having to fight personal injury lawsuits if an employee can show that you did not properly manage risk from DSE and caused a workplace injury.  Injuries caused by improper use of DSE can create musculoskeletal health issues including back, neck and shoulder pain as well as eye problems and stress and mental health issues caused by the impact physical health problems have on a person’s mental health.  All of this results in lost work days due to illness and potentially long term health problems for employees.

If you have any questions about employee wellbeing, ViewHR are here to help, and we also work alongside specialist Health and Safety Consultants.  Please do get in touch with a member of our team today.