The DSE regulations are for the protection of people, both employed and self-employed – who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work (classed as DSE users). But if you work from home, do these regulations still apply?
The short answer to this is yes, regardless of who has supplied the workstation.
As a homeworker, you may encounter both the normal risks associated with DSE work, such as musculoskeletal disorders, visual fatigue and stress, but also some potentially increased risks that may arise from lack of supervision, social isolation, lack of employer commitment, and difficulties in undertaking risk assessments.
The following easy steps can be taken to help reduce these risks:
1. As it is not always practicable for an employer to send someone to carry out a risk assessment, a good solution is for your employer to train you to undertake your own risk assessments. This can be done by training you in the use of an ergonomic checklist (an example can be found on the HSE website).
2. Training in the use of an ergonomic checklist can be carried out when you are visiting head office, using office display screen equipment to work through the topics the assessment should cover.
3. Once a risk assessment has been carried out, you should report it to your employer, for example by submitting a completed checklist.
4. In the case of working for short periods in hotel rooms or similar places, the full procedure may not be necessary; you should however, be trained to mentally run through the key points from the checklist and take appropriate steps to ensure you are comfortable and can minimise risks when carrying out your DSE work.
5. You should also receive training and information about other aspects of health and safety relating to DSE use, for example good posture and taking breaks. This is especially important when you work from home, when you are not under immediate supervision.
6. You may wish to consider break-monitoring software to remind you to take frequent breaks away from the screen.
7. Ensure that you have clear chains of communication for reporting and resolving any ergonomic defects or warning signs of health problems. You should feel encouraged to report any problems promptly, and with a supportive workplace culture, both you and your managers will feel motivated to find and implement solutions.
If you work from home or you employ homeworkers and would like further advice on training in carrying out home risk assessments, please contact us for more information. Positura uses an ergonomic checklist in carrying out DSE risk assessments and we can provide training for homeworkers in the correct use of such a checklist at home.