Ergonomics and DSE assessments explained

Healthy employees are your most valuable asset. Here, we give a breakdown of how DSE Assessments and improved ergonomics can help.


As 2020 continues on, it’s becoming increasingly evident that working from home is no longer a temporary solution – it’ll form part of the long term changes many businesses make, even once we are no longer living in a pandemic. Several of the UK’s largest firms will not expect employees to return to the office until 2021; many businesses have changed their working from home policies for good and many more are looking to change their office structures long term.

Employers duty of care to provide workable, durable home-office solutions is therefore greater than ever. The starting requirement of this is to carry out a DSE Assessment on all employees’ working from home.

 What is a DSE Assessment?

A DSE assessment is an evaluation all employers must do of the equipment their employees are using at home. Essentially, it’s the name given to the checks employers must make to ensure it’s safe to use, as it’s up to them to protect their workers from the health risks associated with working with Display Screen Equipment such as PCs, Laptops and smartphones.

 …And why is it important?

There are a number of reasons they’re important. Firstly, it’s now compulsory for all home-workers working with DSE (otherwise known as ‘DSE users’) for more than an hour daily to comply with health and safety regulations and it’s up to you, as the employer, to ensure they are able to do this. But it’s not just about the legal requirements. DSE Assessments have a profound effect on other areas of business too.

Correct equipment ergonomics helps people avoid the main health risks associated with DSE, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), visual fatigue and mental stress; it enhances the morale, health and wellbeing of employees, thereby maximising productivity and reducing sickness absence. Claims for upper limb disorders are also massively reduced, meaning administrative costs go down as well.

At a fundamental level, the carrying out of assessments sets an example of how DSE equipment should be used and encourages the adoption of good practice companywide, regardless of where DSE users are working.

So what exactly is required of the employer?

Companies are responsible for completing all DSE workstation assessments as well as actively looking for ways to reduce risks, such as making sure workers take breaks from DSE work, providing eye tests if a worker asks for one and delivering training and information to workers to help them maintain healthy ergonomics.

It’s good practice for every employee to receive a DSE assessment on a regular basis. Legally, any business that employs more than 5 people should have a written DSE assessment on file. Though it’s currently unclear exactly how many assessments employees should receive during their period of employment, new staff should always receive a full assessment and then where there are changes to working conditions or the health of the employee, a new assessment is recommended.

How ergonomics can help

Improving your workplace ergonomics processes has several significant benefits. They:

Reduce costs

By systematically reducing ergonomic risk factors, you can prevent costly MSDs. With approximately $1 out of every $3 in workers compensation costs attributed to MSDs and the threat of indirect injury costs being up to 20 times that of the direct one, there’s a real opportunity to make significant savings.

Ergonomics improves productivity

The best ergonomic solutions will often improve productivity. By designing a job to allow for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions and better heights and reaches, the workstation becomes more efficient.

Ergonomics improves quality

Poor ergonomics leads to frustrated and fatigued workers that aren’t able to do their best work. When the job task is too physically taxing on the worker, they may not perform their job like they were trained.

Ergonomics improves employee engagement

Employees notice when the company is putting forth their best efforts to ensure their health and safety. If an employee is able to get through the day without experiencing fatigue and discomfort it can reduce turnover, decrease absenteeism, improve morale and increase employee involvement.

Ergonomics creates a better safety culture

The cumulative effect of the previous four benefits of ergonomics is a stronger culture for your company. It shows your company’s commitment to health and safety as a core value.  Healthy employees are your most valuable asset; creating and fostering this culture at your company will lead to better human performance for your organization.

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