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Display Screen Equipment Training – a stitch in time…

Posted on the 10th of May 2012

It can happen suddenly, with no warning. One minute no problem, then, the next moment, agony! I’m talking about back problems, and specifically back problems related to regular poor posture sitting working at a desk. Most of us tend to be a little lazy when it comes to posture; maybe it’s something you’re thinking about now as you read this, but how long before you forget and maybe slump forward or twist to reach an awkwardly placed document or cup of coffee?

With musculoskeletal disorders, which includes bad backs, being just one of the health concerns on the rise in tandem with the rapid increase in computer use, regulations came into force in January 1993 designed to help protect the health of everyone who ‘habitually’ uses a computer at work – The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.

Hoping to stem the tide in the rise of poor health statistics associated with computer use, these ‘new’ regulations stipulated the need to assess the health and safety risk of workstations, the need for periodic breaks or changes of activity of computer users, care for eyesight and the need for training - “…his employer shall ensure that he is provided with adequate health and safety training in the use of any workstation upon which he may be required to work.”

This means that anyone who ‘habitually’ uses a computer at work MUST be trained in setting up their work area so it’s the best it can be for them.

So what should DSE training include?

One of the areas that display screen equipment (DSE) training should cover is preventative steps to reduce the chance of the agony of a bad back; but health concerns linked to computer use aren’t just confined to bad backs, they also include repetitive strain injury (RSI), eyestrain, stress, headaches and migraines, so good DSE training needs to address a range of different areas  –

1. Chair set up – correct adjustment of chair, with special attention to supporting the small of the back and being able to comfortably place feet flat on the floor.
2. Desk layout – what do you NEED and where should it be to avoid stretching and awkward movements?
3. Keyboard and mouse – proper placement and use – no thumping the keys!
4. Display Screen – not only placement - correct distance from the user and correct height, but also the actual visual quality – are the characters clear, without jitter and easy to read?
5. Environment – noise, temperature and lighting are important considerations for a happy, healthy and stress-free workplace.
6. Computer use – regular breaks away from the computer, eyesight checks and good software all help prevent problems for regular computer users.

Research shows that people who spend more than 75% of their work day at a computer are significantly more likely to complain of wrist, hand and finger problems and where the computer work requires particularly high concentration, headaches and migraines, difficulties in focussing, pains in legs, shoulders and wrists are all high on the list of concerns. The same research has also shown that users who completed DSE training were less likely to complain about discomfort symptoms (source HSE Research Journals (http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/journals/mrn698b.htm)).

The computer age heralded such a massive growth in the use of computers that you would be hard pushed to find an office without at least one computer in it these days and if you are the one who uses that computer then you NEED DSE training; not only is it a legal requirement, but also because it’s so important to your health. Setting up your workstation properly doesn’t have to cost anything, some simple adjustments to your chair or desk layout and positioning could be all that’s required to keep you healthy. Problems can build over time, so the earlier you do this, the better. After all it’s YOUR health that’s at stake!

You need to try the excellent DSE Training Programme from iHasco - It's for ALL computer users. It includes a personal self-assessment as part of the training, enabling you to assess your own workspace - after all when completing the training at your computer you are in the perfect position to assess your work area!

For more information about this training programme, or a no-obligation trial, please contact us by calling on 01344 867088 or emailing enquiries@ihasco.co.uk