Computers and Homeworking

Computers and Homeworking

Introduction

The use of display screen equipment (DSE) or computers and keyboards is a common workplace activity. Although working with computers can be percieved as a "low-risk" activity, the improper setup and use of DSE can lead to a number of health issues including: 

  • Back pain
  • Upper limb disorders
  • Eye stain
  • Fatigue and Stress 

 

Please see this short guide to use of laptops in a home setting (click here for computer set up tips)

Additional visual guides to working comfortably at home with computers can be found by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

 

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (amended 2002) requires employers to:

  • Provide computer workstations that meet minimum health and safety requirements.
  • Provide computer users with adequate training and information about safe use of computers.
  • Provide an eye sight test (available free from an optician) and pay for spectacles if these are required specifically for computer work.

DSE Flowchart

Training and DSE Self Assessment

The University has adopted a self-assessment approach. Staff are required to undertake online training and complete a workstation self-assessment. The elearning is intended to provide a basic level of training and guide those who are inexperienced in making a step by step assessment of their workstation. It is essential that the final assessment is completed in order for a formal training record to be produced.

 Instructions for AssessRite training

  1. Follow link: DSE Training and Assessment
  2. It should take you to the IT services Business Systems website
    1. Log in using your GUID.
    2. Click on “DSE Training and Assessment” and complete the Assessrite training.
    3. Complete training and assessment and note any issues that still linger after you have adjusted your setup and posture.
    4. Discuss findings with your line manager and Safety Coordinator and implement any remedial actions.

Eye test and spectacles

All DSE users are are entitled to eye examinations and spectacles paid for by their employer. The spectacles MUST be specifically required for computer use and be supported by an Optician's signature. The cost will be met by the employing unit and is limited to £55. Users may make a claim for reimbursement using this form: DSE Spectacles Claim Form.

What are my responsibilities

Line Managers - are responsible for ensuring that new staff complete the DSE training and self-assessment online as part of the induction process, and to keep records to demonstrate this has been done. They are also responsible for:

  • supporting their staff and Safety Coordinators in implementing good DSE practice
  • following up actions arising from individual DSE assessments (including equipment replacement or purchase as required) and
  • investigating any staff health issues related with DSE use and making referrals to Occupational Health, if required.

ANY EQUIPMENT OR FURNITURE REQUIRED FOR COMPUTER USE HAS TO BE PROVIDED BY THE USER'S SCHOOL, INSTITUTE OR SERVICE. NO FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THIS WITHIN EITHER SEPS OR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH.

All staff - are responsible for completing the online DSE training and self-assessment and to take personal responsibility for following the training by ensuring that their DSE equipment, chair and workstation are set up and managed properly and that they take regular breaks from computer use. They must report to their line manager any concerns about this equipment or adverse effects which they believe lone working may be arising from DSE use.

Homeworking

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, working practices have shifted and there is an incresed number of staff working from home. Staff working from home may be constrained by equipment, space and furniture available. It is reccomended that all staff that utilise homeworking should carry out a DSE workstation assessment and complete the Homeworking Essentials course  on Moodle which can be found below.

Homeworking Essentials

 

If you use the integral keyboard on a laptop without a separate monitor you are VERY likely to suffer from neck and shoulder pain within a short time through constantly looking down at the screen. SEPS recommend that that you do not try to use laptops and tablets for extended periods of time unless you can set them up in an ergonomic manner.

Advice on computer ergonomics and use is available via the link on the Business Systems webpage entitled "Computer Workstation Training and Assessment". This package is aimed at employees and is only available to members of staff. A GUID is required to access the resource.

The following tips are suggested. 

  • Try to work on a desktop PC, if possible, rather than a laptop or notebook. This will allow a more ergonomic workstation set up.
  • If you are using a laptop or notebook, try to connect this to a separate keyboard, mouse and monitor if you have access to these. This allows an ergonomic set up comparable to a desktop PC to be achieved.
  • If you don't have a separate monitor, but can get a keyboard and mouse, connect these and use your laptop as a monitor only. Raise the laptop up so that the top of the screen is just below eye level and at a comfortable viewing distance.
  • If you have access to a height adjustable chair you should use this, adjusting the height so that when sitting upright with your forearms horizontal, your fingertips are at the same level as your keyboard. If you don't have an adjustable office-type chair you may be able to achieve a similar posture and position with a fixed chair.
  • Try to make sure that you take regular short breaks. Move around for 5 to 10 minutes each hour aiming for frequent short breaks rather than infrequent longer breaks. Taking regular breaks is particularly important if your computer is not set up in an optimal manner.
  • If you do not have a suitably set up computer workstation you may need to limit the time you spend at the keyboard to avoid suffering aches and pains.

 

Waste Disposal

When disposing of computing equipment you must comply with the Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE Regs). The University has developed procedures to help you in this and further information is available in the Waste section of SEPS web site.