Guidance relating to workstation assessments
There is a legal requirement to conduct risk assessments on workstations regardless of the work location - this includes the home office, workplace, or shared working space.
The shift to hybrid working arrangements and work hubs has significantly increased the burden on employers to ensure all workstations are assessed.
Terminology and Scope
The workstation assessment will typically include a Visual Display Unit (VDU) or Display Screen Equipment (DSE). The acronyms “VDU” and “DSE” are used interchangeably but both come under the workstation assessment.
The scope of the assessment includes the monitor(s), computer, software, keyboard, mouse, headset, camera, accessories such as the mouse and wrist rest as well as the chair, desk, and the immediate work environment.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Chapter 5, outlines the requirements for an “analysis of the workstation in order to evaluate the safety and health conditions”. The minimum requirements for Display Screen Equipment are detailed in Schedule 4 of these regulations. There is a detailed guidance document available from the Health and Safety Authority on the regulations and further guidance: on Working from Home.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, Section 8, also places a duty on employers to “ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees”. Section 19 states that every employer shall “identify the hazards in the place of work under his or her control” and be in possession of a risk assessment.
Consequence of not doing the Assessment
Employees can be adversely affected in several ways including work-related upper limb disorders ranging from temporary fatigue or soreness in the limbs, to cramp, to ongoing pain in the muscles or nerves and repetitive strain injuries (RSI), eye fatigue and general fatigue and stress arising from repetitive work.
Competency to do Workstation Assessments
The assessments must be carried out by a competent assessor. This means that the assessor must have the appropriate training, experience and knowledge to carry out this type of risk assessment.
For remote work locations, the assessments should be carried out using an interactive application such as Zoom, MS Teams etc which will enable the assessor to observe the Workstation (use the camera to do this). The detailed assessment requirements are set out in the Working from Home guidance linked above.
VDU assessors' course will enable them to gain the knowledge they need to become competent to do these assessments.
The workstation assessment can also be outsourced to a competent third-party provider.
There should be relevant policies in place to cover the employee’s work arrangements. These may include but are not limited to a Hybrid Work Policy, Remote Work Policy and Hot Desk Policy etc. In relation to the workstation requirements described above the policy should be practical and it should clearly outline the employer and employee responsibilities as well as set out the expectations with regards to the type of work location, housekeeping standards, training requirements, assessment requirements including co-operation with assessors, follow-up actions, provision of work equipment, maintenance of this equipment and incident reporting requirements.
Management of Workstation Assessments
While the assessments must be done in person, there are several online tools on the market which can help plan, track, and record the relevant data using alert systems to notify the person being assessed, the assessor and the responsible manager. The online tool can also assist train employees on workstation setup.
Frequency of Assessments
It is best practice is to review the assessment every two years however they are also required when the workstation changes, if required as part of a risk assessment or if the employee reports an injury.
- Assessments must be carried out for all workstations, regardless of work location.
- Assessors must be competent, and the assessment must be done in person and not by the employee themselves.
- If work equipment is required as a result of the assessment, it must be provided by the employer.
- Ensure there is a system in place to track assessments, manage the actions requirement and alert the relevant stakeholders.
If you have any questions on VDU assessment- please contact email@example.com
For any queries related to training VDU assessors and competency- please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ibec Academy run in-company customised course to train a team of assessors or you can attend a course in our Dublin office. For more information: https://www.ibecacademy.ie/course-detail/display-screen-equipment-visual-display-unit-risk-assessor/?id=83
Senior Commercial EHS Services Executive