Display Screen Equipment

Page under review


The term DSE refers to a display screen usually forming part of a computer and showing text, numbers or graphics. DSE may also be referred to as Visual Display Unit (VDU), Monitor or Laptop.  It also includes Ipads, tablets and other hand held devices including mobile phones.

The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 (Amended 2002) identify workers to whom the regulations apply and describe these as “Employees who habitually use DSE for the purpose of an employer’s undertaking as a significant part of their normal work”.  The University applies these regulations to any individual using display screen equipment.  It is the line managers responsibility to inform employees that:

  • they are required to complete a workstation assessment (see Display Screen Equipment Assessment).
  • they are entitled to an eye test (see eye tests and spectacles).

Display Screen Equipment Assessment

All workstations are required to be assessed to determine whether they meet the required standards and these are set out by the Health & Safety Executive.  The standards not only refer to the physical equipment and furniture which comprise the workstation but also to the physical environment and its user.

The University Procedure:

All employees are expected to complete a self assessment of their work station annually. The safety coordinator must retain completed assessments for two years. It is essential that work station issues are resolved and not simply identified.

Step 1: The employee must complete a work station self assessment form; the form is available below.

Step 2: The completed assessment forms to be returned to the line manager to review the assessment and action any issues.

Laptop/Notebook Computers

The portability is their main advantage, and they should be compact enough to be easy to carry. However this can compromise the size of keyboard and screen making them uncomfortable for prolonged use. Careful consideration needs to be given to where and how these are used, a regular size keyboard and mouse can be purchased. The regulations do state that the screen and keyboard need to be separate for periods of use over an hour.

Staff who spend time at home working on their own laptop/pc for work related purposes should follow the same principles as if they were in the workplace.

Eye Tests and Spectacles

Employees who are classed as DSE users are entitled to an eye tests.  The frequency of the eye test is the normal NHS interval of two years although this may differ in some individuals; Employers should be guided by the clinical judgement of the Optometrist or Doctor on the frequency of repeat testing.

To be deemed a 'user' of display screen equipment all or most of the following criteria must be met

  • carrying out the job depends on DSE;
  • there is no discretion as to the use of DSE;
  • significant training and particular skills in the use of DSE are needed;
  • there is continuous use of DSE for spells of an hour or more;
  • use is more or less daily;
  • there is a fast transfer of information between the user and screen; and
  • a high level of concentration is required.

The necessary documents for the optician are available from the HR Department and must be obtained prior to the appointment.  Following the eye test if the optician recommends that either:

  • Spectacles are required for general use, incorporating a special prescription for VDU use, or 
  • Spectacles are required solely for VDU use and are not required/used for any other purpose; 
the University will pay for the cost of such spectacles, lenses, basic frames and tints to lenses if necessary, up to the current limit in operation (Currently £60 including the cost of the eye test). If other than the basic specified frames are requested by the DSE user all additional costs resulting from this must be paid for by the user.

It should be noted that if the Optician determines that the user for normal day-to-day use requires spectacles, the University would not cover the costs of these and the DSE user must make their own arrangements for the supply of these and will be responsible for the full cost.

The University will cover the cost of a repeat test after the period of time recommended by the optician or sooner for DSE 'users' experiencing visual difficulties, which may reasonably be considered, related to the DSE.  Where the Optician determines that there are sight difficulties that cannot be rectified, the matter should be referred to the HR Department.

The optometrist must confirm that any corrective appliances required are specifically for DSE use or a current prescription requires a change as a result of DSE use.  Once treatment is complete the user pays for the test and prescription and obtains an itemised receipt.  Staff who qualify for a payment will receive it with their monthly salary.

Workstation Self Assessment Form

Workstation Guidance

HSE DSE Workstation Checklist