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DSE Assessments: How often should they be completed?

Back Pain At Work - SureteamThe move by businesses to more flexible working patterns facilitated by advancements in technology means that the risks to employees from prolonged use of Display Screen Equipment are increasing.

However, whilst the risks are becoming greater, in our experience there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in the number, or frequency, of Display Screen Assessments being completed by businesses.

Historically many businesses completed a DSE Assessment as part of a new employee induction programme and then didn’t re-visit it proactively – rather waiting until an issue was raised by the individual.

These risk assessments are important evaluations for employees that work for long periods of time in front of a computer, laptop or any other graphic display screen. Designed to establish the risks and identify factors that can be changed or improved to protect employees, they shouldn’t be limited to the induction process.

In our latest blog post we look at the frequency of, and situations that should trigger, a new assessment to be completed.

Minimum Programme of Regular Re-assessments

It’s inevitable that bodies will change, habits will develop, chairs will deteriorate, and monitors will be moved around.  It’s for these naturally occurring reasons that a regular re-assessment programme should be put in place so that all employees have a DSE check on a regular basis.

At Sureteam, we recommend that as a minimum a new DSE Assessment is undertaken for every employee, every 2 years.  We also promote the ongoing education of employees so that they fully understand the risks, good practice and steps they can take to make their own adjustments to their seating positions and working habits outside of the formal reviews.

In addition to regular assessments, there are a number of specific situations that should trigger an earlier DSE review and some of these are highlighted below.

Returning Employees

As already identified DSE Assessments are often completed for new employees as part of the induction process.  It is not however, always the case when welcoming someone back to work after a period of absence such as maternity leave, sabbatical or illness whether they are returning to their same desk or not.

Change of Location or Workstation

Whether it’s simply changing desks or moving to a completely new office (with or without the same desk), if an employee is working at a different location then a new DSE Assessment should be conducted.

It’s a common misconception that DSE audits are just focused on the user and the equipment they use, but they should also incorporate an evaluation of the environment including lighting, noise levels, air quality and screen glare.

These are all things that could potentially change when an individual moves location even if it is only just metres away from their old desk.

Change in Equipment

If a user has a new piece of kit whether it’s a new chair, desk or computer then a new DSE Assessment is required.

A common scenario we come across is where a business conducts a DSE Assessment, identifies an issue, replaces some furniture and then doesn’t revisit the assessment to ensure the new furniture is fit for purpose and has addressed the issue identified.

So, whether it is a complete office refurbish or simply replacing a couple of old chairs, if the employee has a new piece of kit a DSE Assessment is required.

Changes to Working Patterns or Role

Another change that can often be forgotten when it comes to assessing the impact of DSE use, is when an individuals’ role or work pattern changes.  Moving from a fixed, office-based workstation to a role on the road where working from a laptop at home, hot desking at various offices and even working at coffee shops etc is the norm, will bring about a range of different issues that need to be assessed.

Similarly, if a persons’ role changes significantly to one where there are longer, sustained periods working at a computer then a new assessment should take place.

Back Problems and/or Changes to Health

Correct Sitting PostureThis can be slightly more difficult to manage as it relies on employees paying attention to their own health and safety and highlighting when something isn’t right.

As an employer, you should ensure your staff are adequately trained to spot issues and encouraged to take responsibility and raise any concerns they have.

If a member of the team is experiencing pain or discomfort that could be linked to working with display screen equipment, obvious ones being back pain, neck pain or eye strain, a DSE Assessment should be carried out to analyse whether the pain is caused by their working position and appropriate action taken.

Equally, if the individual has any significant changes to their personal health that could affect the use of DSE at work, an assessment should be carried out to take into considerations their specific circumstances as part of wider occupational health support.

Need Some Help?

There are very few employees who will not use some form of display screen equipment in their job so a robust DSE assessment policy is required for most businesses.

Our professional team have extensive experience in conducting DSE Assessments and our new Healthy Working System provides businesses with proactive DSE support that can be tailored to their business.

To find out more, give one of our team a call on 01666 503686 or use our contact form.