Have you done your workstation assessment?

Office work is relatively safe, and accident rates are low. However, it is still not risk free, writes Portia Lamb, Safety Adviser.

In addition to obvious hazards such as a slippery floor or folders falling off shelves, a modern office may also contain hazards such as poor lighting, noise, poorly designed furniture and equipment.

Working long hours at a computer workstation can lead to aches and pains in the neck and back, eyestrain, and a general feeling of tension and irritability. Most of these conditions do not indicate any serious ill health, but it makes sense to avoid them as much as possible.

Adjustability is the key

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 aim to protect the health of people who work. When it comes to office workstation, one size does not fit all. Chairs, monitor stands etc. should all be adjustable in order to accommodate the widest range of employees. Additionally, adequate work surfaces to be able to reach all equipment comfortably without stretching, overreaching or twisting.

 Work place safety diagram

Assessing your workstation

If employees are unsure about how to adjust their seats correctly, how to position the computer’s screen, keyboard and mouse correctly or when to take appropriate breaks, then this increases health risks.

Providing adjustable furniture and equipment is only the first step in creating an ergonomically sound workstation. Guidance is provided on the SEPS website to enable staff to undertake a self-assessment and operate the adjustable equipment and furniture provided.

It is important and beneficial for every employee that uses computers for long periods at a time, to undertake a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) self-assessment as a proactive measure.

Take a break

Giving your eyes a rest and allowing them to focus on things at varying distances can help reduce strain and fatigue. HSE recommends workers take a short break from the computer at regular intervals. Most tasks will incorporate breaks from using the computer as a natural element of the work e.g. the need to move from the workstation to photocopy or file documents.


Training is an important element in managing the ergonomic risk. Many times, employers can invest money in an excellent adjustable chair, but employees can still experience discomfort. A few well thought out minor adjustments can make all the difference.

For more information visit the SEPS Website.  

SEPS will be offering DSE Assessment sessions, which will include guidance and a practical demonstration on how to set up a computer workstation correctly. This will be beneficial for all staff groups of staff and postgraduate students.

If you cannot make the dates below, email safety@glasgow.ac.uk to express your interest for future sessions.

When: 1 October 2015 and 11 November 2015

Where: Isabella Elder Building, Conference Room

Time: 2pm - 3pm

First published: 7 September 2015