A poorly equipped and arranged workstation is a major contributing factor in the development of many work-related upper limb disorders. There are specific legislative and best practice requirements for the use of display screen equipment.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007 - Chapter 5 of Part 2 outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to Display Screen Equipment.
These regulations are applicable:
If the employee has no choice but to use the VDU to carry out her/his work
If the employee normally uses the VDU for continuous periods of more than one hour
If the VDU is generally used by the employee on a daily basis.
What constitutes a workstation under the Display Screen Equipment Regulation 2007?
‘Workstation’ means an assembly comprising display screen equipment, which may be provided with a keyboard or input device or software, or a combination of the foregoing, determining the operator and machine interface, and includes:
- a work chair and work desk or work surface
- any optional accessories and peripherals, and
- the immediate work environment of the display screen equipment.
Musculoskeletal injuries resulting from poor workplace ergonomics account for 34% of all lost workdays injuries and illnesses (95% of workers' days at work are spent at their desk). A properly set up workstation is shown to increase productivity by over 10%.
The Display Screen Equipment Regulation 2007 means that an employer has a duty to:
- Carry out an analysis or risk assessment of employee workstations
- Provide information to employees in relation to measures which have been implemented
- Provide training to employees in the use of workstations before commencing work with display screen equipment
- Perform a further analysis or risk assessment where an employee transfers to a new workstation or significant new work equipment, change of equipment or new technology is introduced to an individual’s workstation
- Ensure that the provision of an appropriate eye and eyesight test is made available to every employee.
There are four stages in the risk assessment process:
- Initial consultation with the employee
- Observation of the employee working at the computer workstation
- Identify the issues that need to be addressed
- Review the implementation of the action plan.
A person with sufficient training must carry out the risk assessment procedure (and it should be documented).