What is a Workstation Assessment?

What is a Workstation Assessment?

A Workstation Assessment is usually another term for a DSE Risk Assessment or an Ergonomic Assessment.

workstation assessmentA Workstation/DSE Risk Assessment is essential for anyone who uses Display Screen Equipment (DSE) as part of their job. The are also known as DSE Self-assessments or VDU (Visual Display Unit) Assessments.

H & S Legislation

Current legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that the employer has a responsibility to make the workplace safe for their employees.

Apart from their legal duty, working practices that risk causing injury or prevent recovery in an injured worker affect productivity of an overall workforce.

A DSE Risk Assessment is required for each worker under the DSE Regulations 1992/2002. The DSE Risk Assessment will review all of the tasks performed at the DSE workstation. It is a process to identify risks that may affect the health of the user. It includes looking at the keyboard, mouse, display screen, desk, chair, footrest and the working environment.

The HSE website has an Office Risk Assessment Tool. There is information about a DSE Risk Assessment and a DSE Risk Assessment Checklist.

A DSE Risk Assessment is essentially an Ergonomic Assessment.

Definition of Ergonomics

The definition of Ergonomics by the UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF) is:

“Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.” International Ergonomics Association 

The terms ‘ergonomics’ and ‘human factors’ can be used interchangeably, although ‘ergonomics’ is often used in relation to the physical aspects of the environment, such as workstations and control panels. ‘Human factors’ is often used in relation to wider system in which people work.

Ergonomics is matching the job to the worker and the product to the user. See the HSE information about Human Factors & Ergonomics. 

Performing a Workstation DSE Risk Assessment

Some employers conduct their own DSE Risk Assessments, possibly using paperwork from HSE. They may have their own policy regarding DSE and their own trained assessors. Some assessments can be conducted electronically using videos to educate users to complete their own DSE Risk Assessment, known as self-assessment.

A DSE Risk Assessment includes a checklist of all aspects of the office workstation. There are various checklists available but it is necessary to ensure that the checklist covers all aspects of the workstation and environment.

A DSE Risk Assessment should not just be a ‘tick box’ exercise. Poorly set up workstations can lead to pain in the back, neck, shoulder and arms. Also fatigue and eyestrain. Therefore the assessment should be conducted at least once a year.

After the Workstation Assessment

Once the Workstation/DSE Risk Assessment has been completed, recommendations are made. The individual may need the following actions:

  • A footrest
  • A monitor riser
  • Move the monitor(s) touching centrally
  • A platform for paperwork over the keyboard
  • Conduct a more in-depth Ergonomic Assessment with a specialist assessor if they cannot get comfortable or they have medical needs

Healthywork DSE Risk Assessment

We have developed a detailed DSE Risk Assessment checklist. This includes all of the basic information usually included on a checklist (under the DSE Regulations 2002 from HSE) but also additional best practice ergonomic advice. It includes educating and training each individual user so they are knowledgeable about their personal requirements.

Our DSE Risk Assessment will provide to each individual:

  • A hand-out to help with setting up the workstation in the correct order. The hand-out is a good memory aid for future setting up. Get the upper body at the correct sitting height before considering the footrest or desk height requirements.
  • Education about what good posture really is, what it feels like and why they need to achieve this.
  • Show what adjustments  are available on their office chair. Also what they need for their own dimensions. Lumbar height and seat depth etc.
  • How to make the adjustments including practical tips. eg use reams of paper as a footrest or under a monitor as a temporary solution. Set up ‘single click’ on the mouse to reduce risk of RSI in the wrist.
  • Encourage them to stop ‘bad habits’ such as trapping their wrists or bending forwards!
  • Advice about microbreaks and rest breaks

What equipment is included under DSE?

Display Screen Equipment is any screen that displays information. the most common DSE includes monitors, laptops, tablets and smartphone.

A DSE Risk Assessment is required for anyone who uses a screen device from as little as 15-30 minutes per day, or any use where the set up is not ideal for their needs and requires review, is causing health difficulties, including aches and pains.

Reasonable Adjustments

More than a Risk Assessment is required, when an individual has medical requirements. The Equality Act 2010  states that the employer has a responsibility to make the workplace safe for their employees and to implement Reasonable Adjustments.

sit and stand desk ergonomic assessmentIn this instance we have defined this as an Ergonomic Assessment. This is a longer assessment, often within the office work setting, at the individuals workstation but also may be in other settings, such as factor environments.

The assessment includes time to review the medical situation with the individual. Adjustments and more detailed solutions are required. It may be that the individual’s anthropometric (body dimensions) measurements are needed for an alternative chair. It could be setting up a standing workstation is required.

Assessments are also conducted to support the return to work of an injured worker by ensuring that their workstation is designed to minimise any discomfort as they recover from their injury and prevent any aggravation of the injury. Also, for workers who work from home, to ensure their home work environment is safe and ergonomically set up.

See our Case Studies:

Ergonomic Assessment in an Office Role Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment of a Teacher Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment & Return-to-Work Case Study

See our blog articles related to this topic:

Contact Us for further advice and a quotation.

See our Useful Links page which includes diagnosis specific advice from organisations which can help.

What is a Workstation Assessment?

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Testimonials

Survey feedback following a DSE Assessment

Well worth having a trained professional actually observe you at your workspace as small adjustments can improve comfort and health.

Sept 2017

Anonymous

Sensory Dimensions

Ergonomic Assessment Functional Capacity Assessment Evaluation DSE Assessment Workstation Milton Keynes Cambridge Oxford North London - sensory

Many thanks indeed for the report.  Very thorough and a lot for us to do to help our member of staff.

I really appreciate the quick turn around.  (May 2017)

Simon Hails
Sensory Dimensions

Atos Healthcare

Assessments for Atos Healthcare

Alison has provided a regular service to Atos Healthcare since July 2007. She is professional, flexible and delivers to timescales and her services have been valued by us and our customer Royal Mail.

Mrs Santu Bhudia, Atos Healthcare

GMG Color Ltd

Ergonomic Assessment Functional Capacity Assessment Evaluation DSE Assessment Workstation Milton Keynes Cambridge Oxford North London - gmg

‘I contacted Alison a couple of months ago and she came up to see me and my team quite recently, Alison was very thorough with everyone, some people needed an hour with her others just 10 minutes, however everybody got something out of her visit, the visit was informative but not long winded and not rushed.

I was also very impressed with the level of information supplied for each individual after the visit, which has enabled me to order what was needed (however I could have done without the cost this involved!!).

Overall I would highly recommend Alison and Healthywork Ltd’. (June 2017)

Ian Probert
GMG Color Ltd

David Higham Associates

Healthywork Clients - David Higham

They (the employees) were all happy with the work you did on the day you came in. Thanks a lot for your help. (Workstation Risk Assessments, November 2011)

Tine Nielsen David Higham Associates

AME

Healthywork Clients - AME

Alison has carried out 100s of assessments for AME some of which have involved multi disciplinary work with other stakeholders such as physiotherapists, computer technicians. Her work with the NHS and medical knowledge has brought an enhanced level of credibility to the work based employment assessment that she undertakes.

Clients trust her, she is diplomatic and highly professional at all times even when placed under considerable pressure to meet tight deadlines and juggle conflicting priorities.

Andy Taylor, Access Made Easy

Basetek Ltd

The feedback from the staff is very positive and they all found it very interesting. (DSE Risk Assessments and Ergonomics Education sessions).

Françoise Ashfield BaseTek Ltd

CHP Consulting

Healthywork Clients - CHP Consulting

When standard instructions on worstation ergonomics didn’t result in any improvement in back pain, Alison provided expert professional guidance. This was constructive, practical and demonstrated the value of experience in this area.

Mr Antony Moss

Watford Borough Council

Healthywork Clients - Watford Borough Council

Thanks very much for the (Functional Capacity) report which we have found extremely useful

Nicola Sharp

HEFCE

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Healthywork Ltd have been extremely helpful over the last year and provided us with a very good service at very short notice.

The quality of their work place assessment reports and recommendations are extremely high. In addition, the employees involved have commented on the extremely helpful knowledge and support provided by the work place assessor.

(Assessments provided in Bristol and Central London).

Sarah de Vere, HR Manager, Higher Education Funding Council for England, based in Bristol
HEFCE