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BUSINESSES UNAWARE OF THEIR LEGAL DUTIES TO EMPLOYEES USING DISPLAY SCREENS

BUSINESSES UNAWARE OF THEIR LEGAL DUTIES TO EMPLOYEES USING DISPLAY SCREENS

Nearly a third of companies are unaware of their legal obligations to employees using display screen equipment (DSE), a study has revealed.

In independent research, commissioned by PMI Health Group, 28 per cent of companies did not know they were responsible for looking after the health needs of the UK’s DSE operators. In contrast, 95 per cent were aware of their legal requirements to risk assess manual handling tasks.

“Display screen equipment such as computer workstations may often be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pains, fatigue and eyestrain,” said PMI Health Group’s physiotherapist Mary Watson.

“The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations were introduced specifically to protect the health of people who work with DSE. 

“A few simple precautions, such as setting up workstations correctly, can have an impact upon employee comfort, productivity and, in some cases, levels of absenteeism.”

Fifty-three per cent of those companies surveyed said staff had taken time off work in the last 12 months with musculoskeletal problems such as RSI, back pain or neck problems.

Although 92 per cent have a policy on advising staff about suitable equipment use – such as desk and monitor heights, lifting and carrying, or breaks from intensive work – it is important that regular assessments are made to ensure this advice is being adhered to.

“Old habits can die hard and companies need to ensure that best practice advice is being heeded if they are to maximise productivity, minimise absenteeism and their liability to prosecution and civil claims,” added Mike Blake, PMI Health Group’s Compliance Director.

Mary added: “For office staff, the most important preventative factors for DSE-related health problems are good sitting posture and regular breaks from DSE usage.

“Prolonged and unrelieved DSE use can lead to fatigue and stress while sitting in a slouched position – a common problem for laptop users – can result in spinal ligaments being overstretched. Over time, this can contribute to recurrent back pain.

“The repetitive actions associated with DSE use can also strain arm and shoulder tendons and ligaments.

“To encourage good posture, regular users should use docking stations (and hence regular keyboards and screens), and employers should note that those who work from home are also entitled to workstation assessments within their home environments.”

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