Skip to Content Skip to navigation
To Be Categorised
Health & Safety Advisor
Health & Safety Advisor
Director of Human Resources
10 July 2015
10 April 2014
10 December 2018


1.1 The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended I n 2002) are for the protection of employees (users) and self-employed (operators) who habitually use Display Screen Equipment (DSE) as a significant part of their normal work. The Regulations require employers to conduct a “suitable and sufficient” analysis of all workstations within their area of responsibility to reduce risks to the lowest extent reasonably practicable. The possible risk factors associated with DSE are mainly those leading to musculoskeletal disorders, visual fatigue and mental stress.

1.2 NHS Fife aims to comply with the legal requirements of the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002) The purpose of this procedure is to put in place systems which will ensure compliance through-
• identification of staff affected by the regulations; 
• risk assessment of workstations;
• arrangements for eye and eyesight tests;
• arrangements for obtaining detailed risk or complex workplace assessments; and
• training and education.

In this procedure-

• “display screen equipment (DSE)” means any alphanumeric or graphic display screen, regardless of the display process involved. This includes computers, laptops, CCTV screens, equipment for viewing digital x-rays and similar, tablet devices and smart phones. Generally excluded from this definition are equipment like cardiac monitors, oscilloscopes, equipment provided for the public (eg ATMs, televisions in waiting rooms, PCs for internet access in dining rooms), cash registers and calculators;
• “operator” means a self-employed person who habitually uses display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work; and 
• “workstation” means an assembly comprising: a screen, keyboard, other parts of the computer and its accessories (such as the mouse or other input device), the desk, chair and the immediate work environment. Some of these items are specifically mentioned in the DSE Regulations, but anything else in the immediate work environment is also part of the workstation
• “use” means use for or in connection with work;
• “user” means an employee who habitually uses display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work and is fully explained in Section 4 Operational Systems; 


2.1 This procedure is applicable to all staff and, by agreement, independent contractors working within NHS Fife and is inclusive of volunteers, agency staff, students and those on work experience. It applies to all situations where DSE are used.


3.1 Senior and line managers are responsible for: 
• communicating details of this policy to staff;
• implementing relevant processes associated with this policy;
• identifying those staff classified as ‘DSE users’;
• informing all staff who are classified as ‘DSE users of access to eyesight tests;
• providing letter of authorisation for ‘DSE users’ attending eyesight test (Appendix1)
• ensuring that all staff who use DSE, regardless of whether or not they are classified as ‘DSE users’ complete and return DSE self assessment checklist (Appendix 2);
• ensuring that the self assessment process is repeated every two years;
• ensuring that all staff who use DSE, regardless of whether or not they are classified as ‘DSE users’ are given appropriate training, information or instruction in correct workstation setup;
• ensure that any issues arising from these assessments are discussed 
and actioned as appropriate;
• ensuring that an occupational health referral is made for any staff reporting musculoskeletal issues possibly associated with DSE use; and
• ensuring that any shared workstations not otherwise assessed are subject 
to an assessment;
• ensuring that where a request for reimbursement for glasses has been made, that checks are carried out to ensure that the staff member does not need to wear these glasses for outwith work, e.g. the glasses are able to be left at the persons desk or workstation at the end of the work day

3.2 All employees are responsible for:
• ensuring they complete and return DSE self assessment form;
• ensuring that workstations they use are correctly set up; 
• ensuring that any problems with workstation or setup are reported promptly; 
• reporting any musculoskeletal problems possibly associated with DSE use immediately to manager or to OHSAS through self referral; and
• ensuring that they follow any instruction, information or training given in relation to DSE use.

In addition to the actions noted above, staff who are classed as ‘DSE Users’ are responsible for-
• where they feel it is necessary, requesting access for an eyesight test for DSE use; and
• ensuring that they have a letter of authorisation from their manager before attending for said test.

3.3 OHSAS is responsible for:
• assisting managers where required in addressing any issues arising from DSE self assessments;
• providing detailed DSE risk or workplace assessments where indicated by results of self assessments or other occupational health intervention;
• providing occupational health assessment through self or management referral where staff are reporting musculoskeletal problems associated with DSE use; and
• providing information and/or training where requested.


The organisational arrangements associated with this procedure relate to-
• identification of those staff who are ‘DSE Users’
• self assessment of workstations;
• assessment of shared workstations;
• arrangements for eye and eyesight tests; 
• arrangements for obtaining detailed risk or complex workplace assessment; and
• training and education.

The organisational arrangements with respect to Agency/ Contract staff vary slightly and full requirements are given in Appendix 3 to this procedure.

4.1 Identification of those staff who are DSE Users
Not everyone who uses DSE is classified as a ‘user’ for the purposes of the regulations. 
It is advised that the activity and duration of usage are used as the main criteria for identifying users.
4.2 Activity
The more obvious categories of people who would be classed as users are those whose DSE work involves intense, uninterrupted period inputting data or viewing data on a screen, e.g. data input operator, medical secretary, eHealth Service Desk, finance/ payroll. This coupled with the time as stated below, helps decide whether a person is a user. This definition becomes less obvious for some clinical and managerial roles where DSE use is often sporadic e.g. reviewing e-mails, viewing digital X-ray images, typing up notes, etc. in these cases considering duration of activity is useful. 
4.3 Duration
Duration of usage may be divided into two categories: the length of a single session and the total time spent. Both should be considered.

If the length of single DSE sessions extends to ninety minutes or more on a regular basis, the individual should be classed as a user unless such sessions occur infrequently, e.g. once a month or less. However it is always recommended that prolonged periods of DSE work are broken up into shorter sessions (30 minutes is recommended) even if the individual is not classed as a user. 

Where DSE use is sporadic or highly variable, considering average use over a week is beneficial. If the average is about three hours a day or over the individual should be designated a DSE user. If the average is less than one hour then, subject to an examination of the type of usage, the individual is not a user. For a period between one and three hours the type of usage should be taken into account before a decision can be made. The OHSAS H&S Advisors can assist if there is any dubiety regarding classification of users.
4.4 Portable DSE
The regulations exclude ‘portable systems not in prolonged use’. Portable systems include laptops, tablet devices, and smart phones. By definition therefore, the regulations will apply to portable systems that are in prolonged use. Anyone using such a system in this way would therefore be classified as a ‘DSE User’ under the regulations.

No guidance is given on the meaning on what constitutes ‘prolonged’ but a suitable guideline would be to reduce the relevant figures noted above by a factor of around one-half to two-thirds, i.e. if using a portable device for an average of one to two hours continuously per day, they should be classed as a user. This reduction in time is related to the posture and general ergonomic issues related to using smaller keyboards and tablets. With regards to smart phones, the definition of ‘use’ is in relation to data information i.e. texts, emails, web and not to use for phone conversations.

Further guidance on the use of Laptops, Portable Computers and Tablets is attached as Appendix 4.

4.5 Self assessment of workstation
The actual process of workstation assessment is not particularly difficult. All persons using DSE should complete a DSE self assessment form which is available on the staff intranet and is attached as Appendix 2.

Staff should complete the form, answering all questions as far as possible. If staff are unsure about a question they should discuss it with their manager or contact the OHSAS H&S Advisors. Once completed the form should be returned to the line manager.
Where forms are returned that do not indicate any problems with the workstation, these should be kept as either electronic or hard copies by the line manager. Managers need only keep the most up to date assessment. There is no requirement to archive old copies.

Where forms are returned that indicate a problem might exist managers should, in the first instance, discuss the issue with the staff involved. Where necessary, it is a manager’s responsibility to ensure that problems with workstation design and setup are rectified as soon as possible. Once problems have been rectified the self assessment should be redone.
If managers or staff are unsure about the nature or rectification of any problems, they should involve OHSAS advisors. 

4.6 Staff working in non NHS Fife Premises.
The regulations also apply to NHS Fife staff who use DSE at locations other than NHS Fife owned/ rented properties e.g. local authority offices, GP practices. Where staff are working on another employers premises but are carrying out NHS Fife duties, a workstation assessment must be carried out.

4.7 Assessment of shared workstations/hot desk areas
Where one workstation is used by more than one worker, whether simultaneously or in shifts, it should be assessed in relation to all those covered by the DSE Regulations. For example if a very tall and a very short worker are sharing a workstation, the assessor should check the chair has a wide enough range of adjustment to accommodate both of them, and that a footrest is available when required.

4.8 Arrangements for eye and eyesight tests; 
All users are entitled to a full eye and eyesight test on request. When requested, managers must provide employees with an eye & eyesight test form (Appendix 1), which should be signed by the manager prior to a visit to the optician. It should be noted that eyesight tests are now free within Scotland.

If you are found to require spectacles that are specifically for viewing your Display Screen Equipment at work, and your normal spectacles would not enable this, then your employer must provide a basic pair of spectacles to correct your vision at the particular viewing distance/s.

The purpose of the eye test by an optometrist is to decide whether the user has any defect of sight which requires correction when working with a display screen. It follows that when they have an eye test, users need to be able to describe their display screen and working environment (particularly the distance at which they view the screen). The frequency of repeat testing will be determined by the clinical judgment of the optometrist. 

The optometrist will need to make a report to the employer, copied to the employee, stating clearly whether or not a corrective appliance is needed specifically for display screen work and when re-examination should take place. Where it is deemed necessary that the user requires special corrective spectacles specifically for use at a display screen at work, the staff members department within NHS Fife will be liable only for the cost of the basic pair which has been noted within the optometrists report. 

Contact lenses are not covered within this procedure as any special corrective appliances for display screen work are prescribed for work for the distance at which the screen is viewed. It follows that when the user changes to a different work activity or leaves their workstation for any other reason, they will need to remove their special corrective appliance to see clearly at other distances. This would be highly inconvenient with contact lenses. 
Before any request for re-imbursement for glasses is authorised, the line manager must ensure that the staff member does not need to wear these glasses for outwith work, e.g. the glasses are able to be left at the persons desk or workstation at the end of the work day.

Health & Safety can provide advice and guidance on request. 

4.9 Arrangements for obtaining detailed risk or complex workplace assessment.
Where the self assessed DSE assessment has identified issues, where requested, OHSAS can assist you in finding appropriate solutions. Assistance will also be given on request for complex risk assessments. 

OHSAS will provide occupational health assessment through self or management referral where staff have reported musculoskeletal or other ill health problems associated with DSE use.

4.10 Training and education
Training in the use of the workstation must be provided for all users and for employees prior to them becoming users. This training can be delivered by an experienced member of staff within the same department who has the knowledge to demonstrate how to best set up a workstation and alter chair height and backrest support. The new member of staff must also be asked to read this policy for information and to complete the self assessment form contained within it.

Information must be provided to employees regarding all aspects of health and safety relating to the use of their workstation and the control measures provided to protect the employee.

DSE user awareness sessions and Risk Assessor sessions can be provided by the health and safety team on request.

Users must be encouraged to report any ill health symptoms which may be related to DSE use, to their line manager.


5.1 This procedure is a part of NHS Fife’s system for managing risk as described in the NHS Fife Risk Register and Risk Assessment Policy. 


NHS Fife Risk Register and Risk Assessment Policy


Health & Safety Executive

HSE Books (2003). Work With Display Screen Equipment, The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, Guidance on Regulations, L26. ISBN 0 7176 2488 9.

Online version:

HSE Books (2003). The law on VDUs: An easy guide, Making sure your office complies with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002). HSG90. ISBN 978 0 7176 2602 1.

Online version:

HSE Books (2006). Working with VDUs. INDG136(rev3).

Online version:

Further guidance available on HSE Display Screen Equipment micro site: