Frequently asked questions
If you use display screen equipment for at least an hour or more every day - or a significant proportion of your work - then this would class you as a DSE user.
The DSE Regulations apply to you regardless of whether you’re at a fixed workstation, a mobile worker, work from home, or if you’re a hot-desker.
There are some situations where the regulations don't apply, these are:
- Driver’s/control cabs for vehicles or machinery
- Screens on board any form of transport
- Display screens that are intended for public use, e.g. electronic information display in a shopping centre
- Portable devices that are not used for prolonged periods of time
- Calculators, cash registers, or any other equipment with a small data or measurement screen, or
- Typewriters of traditional design - “window typewriters”
Although there is no fixed time between breaks or length of breaks stated in the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, the regulations do suggest that breaks should be ‘periodically’ taken. The regulations suggest that each person’s work should be designed to include a mix of tasks, some screen-based and some non-screen based, to allow natural breaks from concentrating on the screen, sitting in the same position or repetitive input work, for example.
Sometimes, due to the nature of your work, this is not possible, and in this case, deliberate breaks must be introduced.
We suggest as a minimum guideline at least 5 minutes in every hour should be spent away from the screen, but it’s also important to make sure you change posture regularly and refocus your eyes; doing some simple stretching exercises at your desk can be very useful too.
Try the 20-20-20 rule - every 20 minutes, look up from your screen at something about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. This gives the muscles in your eyes a chance to relax.
Computer eye strain has become a major job-related complaint due to the length of time many employees are required to be at their desks on their PC’s. Problems can range from physical tiredness, increased number of errors to eye twitching or red eyes. The first thing you should do is book an eye test to make sure that nothing is seriously wrong. Your optician should then be able to advise the best solution for you whether that is to use computer eyewear, modify your workstation, take more breaks or exercise your eyes.
If users request an eye test from an employer because they have to use DSE, then the law states the employer must arrange and pay for one. They must also provide employees with glasses if they need them for DSE.
DSE work can’t cause any long-term or permanent damage to your eyesight, but it can lead to Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, firstly, talk to your employer as they should provide you with Display Screen Equipment training to make sure your workstation is set up correctly. If you have done this but are still getting pain at work you may need to look into your daily routine and start taking more frequent breaks to do some stretches. For persistent pain, you should always see your physician.