The regulations governing the use of display screen equipment state that every employer shall allow for daily work on display screen equipment to be periodically interrupted by breaks or changes of activity, so as to reduce the workload at that equipment.
So, as someone who works at a screen all day, what does this mean for you?
In an ideal world, jobs using display screen equipment would be designed to consist of a mixture of screen-based and non-screen based work, in order to prevent fatigue and to vary visual and mental demands. If this is not possible, and natural breaks and pauses do not occur as a consequence of the organisation of your work, then deliberate breaks or pauses must be introduced.
The following guidelines may be helpful:
1. Breaks or changes of activity should be included in working time. They should not result in a higher pace or intensity of work once introduced.
2. Breaks should be taken before you get tired; this is better than taking a break to overcome fatigue.
3. Appropriate timing of your break is more important than how long your break is.
4. It is better for you to take short, frequent breaks, such as a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes of continuous screen or keyboard work, rather than occasional longer breaks, such as 15-20 minutes every 2 hours.
5. You should be allowed some discretion as to when you can take your breaks. If you have individual control over the nature and pace of your work, you are more likely to have a better distribution of work effort over the course of your working day.
6. Try to include time spent doing other tasks not using display screen equipment in your working day, as this appears to be more effective in relieving eye strain than formal rest breaks.
7. Ensure that your breaks are taken away from the DSE workstation and allow you to stand up and move about.
8. During your breaks, avoid any activities that would demand similar use of your arms or hands as those involved in your DSE work.
9. If your DSE work is visually demanding, ensure that your breaks are of a different visual nature.
10. Avoid using any display screen equipment during your break, including smart phones, for any purpose, including surfing the net or social media sites.
11. Consider using break-prompting software to ensure you take regular breaks.
12. Introducing brief stretching exercises, that can be carried out during your break or at your workstation, can help reduce the negative effects of prolonged postures at display screen equipment.
If you would like further advice on appropriate stretches that you can do both at and away from your workstation, please contact us for further information and one of our highly experienced chiropractors will be happy to help.