What is Display Screen Equipment (DSE)?

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) are devices or equipment that have an alphanumeric or graphic display screen and including laptops, tablets, smart phones and TVs.

What are the health risks with DSE?

Overuse, or improper use of DSE can lead to fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache. Additionally, these kind of problems can also be caused by poorly designed workstations or environments. The causes may not always be obvious and it might take some experimenting to find the right solution for you.

So, what can you do to look after yourself?

Getting comfortable

Making sure you’ve set yourself up to work comfortably is a great first step:

  • Forearms should be approximately horizontal and the user’s eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen.
  • Make sure there is enough work space to accommodate all documents or other equipment. A document holder may help avoid awkward neck and eye movements.
  • Arrange the desk and screen to avoid glare, or bright reflections. This is often easiest if the screen is not directly facing windows or bright lights.
  • Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent intrusive light.
  • Make sure there is space under the desk to move legs.
  • Avoid excess pressure from the edge of seats on the backs of legs and knees. A footrest may be helpful, particularly for smaller users.

Well-designed workstations

To help you stay relaxed and comfortable, follow these simple steps, where possible, in setting up your work area.

Keyboards and typing

  • A space in front of the keyboard can help you rest your hands and wrists when not typing.
  • Try to keep wrists straight when typing.
  • Good keyboard technique is important – you can do this by keeping a soft touch on the keys and not overstretching the fingers.

Using a mouse

  • Position the mouse within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.
  • Sit upright and close to the desk to reduce working with the mouse arm stretched.
  • Move the keyboard out of the way if it is not being used.
  • Support the forearm on the desk, and don’t grip the mouse too tightly.
  • Rest fingers lightly on the buttons and do not press them hard.

Reading the screen

  • Make sure individual characters on the screen are sharp, in focus and don’t flicker or move. If they do, the DSE may need servicing or adjustment.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
  • Make sure the screen surface is clean.
  • When setting up software, choose text that is large enough to read easily on screen when sitting in a normal comfortable working position.
  • Select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on a blue background, or vice versa).
  • Many devices come with an option to filter the amount of blue light emitted by a screen. Making use of these may help prevent your eyes from becoming tired.

Changes in activity

Breaking up long spells of screen time helps prevent fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache. Make sure you’re taking regular breaks and try to make use of the following ideas:

  • Stretch and change position.
  • Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
  • Change activity before you get tired, rather than to recover.
  • Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones. But they can vary depending on what you have on each day.

On the BGU website you can find guides on simple stretches that you can do from your desk and on the making use of the ’20 20 20’ rule to prevent fatigue. You can also find advice from staff at BGU on how to set up a workstation.

Portable computers and laptops

Much of the advice above applies to both static (desktop PCs/televisions) and portable devices (laptops/tablets), however, portable devices can often create their own unique causes of fatigue and postural problems. Try to think about the following when you’re using them.

  • Whenever possible, try to use a docking station or firm surface and a full-sized keyboard and mouse, rather than sitting with a device on your lap or bed.
  • The height and position of the portable’s screen should be angled so that you are sitting comfortably and reflection is minimised (raiser blocks are commonly used to help with screen height).
  • More changes in activity may be needed if you cannot minimise the risks of prolonged use and awkward postures to suitable levels.