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Where the DSE user is employed by an Agency rather than directly by the County Council, it is the responsibility of that Agency to pay for the eye and eyesight test and to make a contribution to any corrective appliances required.
Today(15 Mar 08) I received TUC Risks Bulletin 347 which refers to a new HSE DSE micro site - http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/index.htm. This contains a ‘safety rep’ version of the hard copy checklists I mentioned. These are all significantly identical and my concerns remain unchanged. However, the new site does reaffirm the need for a competent person to review input from users, which is reassuring.
I don’t see the point in the quasi-duplication!
In the wrong (untrained) hands the incomplete HSE checklist in L26 & HSG90 (I am not aware of a Web equivalent) can be less than useless. The DSE Regulations require EMPLOYERS to assess the risk to a PERSON from EACH workstation they use ………. This must take account of any relevant prevailing ailments. Hence, you can have a situation where VDU luminaires are required for one person but not another - both may be undertaking identical tasks.
By CAREFULLY reading the note at the start of the HSE Checklist you will see that this only covers the workstation and the work environment! Unless each user is trained to a high standard (to undertake these assessments) an employer cannot rely on them. How many would recognise their (embedded) inadequate workstation layout; poor posture; excessive direct, reflective and/or veiling reflections; excessive luminance ratios between the screen and background; inadequate illuminance; etc. If users complete the HSE Checklist (or an in-house versions) then these should be critically reviewed by a competent person. The extent of the review should be significantly effected by the results of the corresponding health questionnaire. This may necessitate repeating some of the assessments.
I would not deny anyone who works from hard copies, the use of a FULLY adjustable document holder. You can buy a ‘boat-load’ of these for the cost of DEFENDING an RSI claim! Generally, I have found that user will try and justify the status quo.
Why stop at DSE self assessment? You could get each person to assess ALL risks to themselves and those they impost on others e.g. manual handling, working at height, electricity (including portable appliance), stress, COSHH (including sharps), etc. Clearly, typical employees can only contribute to the process. For some reason, a number of employers regard DSE as ‘different’.
Don’t get me wrong, employees involved in a task can make a valuable CONTRIBUTION to all assessments and should be encouraged to do this. Limitations (in us all) should be unequivocally acknowledged.
Both HSE documents include the checklist and each cost nearly £9. L26 also includes the Regulations and detailed guidance. By reference to the “Schedule” etc in the Regulations it can be seen that considerations are missing from the checklist e.g. software that facilitates quantitive or qualitative monitoring. A user-friendly/complete questionnaire will also identify who will implement the remedial measures and by when. I also make provision for a copy to be provided to the user and a record made that they understand the output of this process.
We use an inhouse version of the HSE workstation checklist, allowing the users to carry out a self assessment of their working environment and the risks as they perceive it, the completed form is then passed to our trained DSE assessor for follow up. There is a need for someone in your office environment to be trained up as a DSE assessor otherwise any findings cannot be followed up effectivly. DSE assessor training is widely available from many providors usually lasting a day or less and is a worthwhile excercise
Thanks Jem. That's interesting. They certainly haven't received any kind of formal training. Probably just the Director talking them through the form.
Thanks for that.
A self assessment can only be carried out if the person has undertaken DSE workstation training, otherwise they will not be competent to assess their own workstation.
Managers or their delegate should attend a manager level DSE training course in order to interpret outcomes of the assessment.
Is he also going to send the manager for 2 yearly eye tests as a representative for all his staff? Seriously, someone in the manager's or Director's position should be competent at distinguishing between 'want' and 'need'. Are they frightened to say 'No' for some reason? There are always people who try to milk the system for DSE aids they don't need, the assessment proves or disproves the need. On balance I'd rather INVEST £30 in a foot rest to keep a worker at work than risk a much higher sum for not acting to prevent predictable and avoidable injury.
When did risk aware become synonymous with risk averse?
On the front page of the (Appendix 5) VDU Workstation Checklist in the HSE blue book (2005 reprint) there is a line for the user's name . In section 7 there are 4 final questions which are obviously targeted at individual users. It's pretty obvious that the assessments are meant to be tailor-made and not one-size-fits-all. I don't understand why your Director can't (or shoud that be won't) see that.
Hi William, Dave.
Thanks for your responses.
I think this is what my Director is afraid of. He thinks everyone will start wanting screen stands and foot stools.
I've found the VDU checklist form HSE, but he still thinks the manager can complete it.
A 'VDU workstation checklist' is avialable from the HSE website for each user to use as a self assessment, it is extremenly useful, and by using the official form you will be meeting the requirements of the DSE regulations. Be prepared from some wonderful, imaginative and entertaining comments from your VDU operatives......I could write a book on it
Definately the former. Different individuals have different needs, they may work in different environments albeit in the same office, i.e.some may be located in areas where there is more glare than others. Remember it is not just the work station we are assessing but also the environment, the task & the individual. The HSE leaflet 'working with VDU's' should help.
I've highlighted to my Director that we are supposed to conduct a DSE assessement for all our employees (they all use computers for a significant part of their day).
Do the employees need to complete a form individually, or can a line manager complete a form for a group? I think the former, my boss thinks the latter!
We currently provide different options across different sites and I am trying to standardise this to provide the most cost effective solution for the whole business, however I am a little stuck on one point. If, following an eye test / examination, the option prescribes general distance lenses (not just VDU use) and advises of a follow up test for 2yrs time, would we be liable to cover the cost of the eye test at that point? Am I being a little too thrifty?
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I think many people believe they are "users" of display screen equipment simply because they use a PC (or similar) and therefore automatically qualify for the eye test and contribution towards glasses "for DSE use."
It is worth challenging people as to why they believe they are a "user" as the definition is quite tight. They must be employees who "habitually" use display screen equipment as a "significant part" of their normal work.
The definition is further expanded:
- work OFTEN requires the use of a display screen for a period of an hour or longer i.e. most of the day
- the display screen is used on most days or every day
- the worker has little or no discretion on when and whether to use the display screen
- the job could not be done without the use of display screen equipment
- the ability to use display screen equipment forms an important part of the worker's job description or the recruitment specification.
If these criteria are fairly applied then many presumed "users" will not qualify for eye tests and glasses because, for example, they spend a lot of time on the 'phone, or in meetings, or travelling from one place to another, or interviewing people, or filing or working machines with no display etc. and so do not actually spend the majority of their time on a PC - it just seems like they do.
My company used to give an eye test voucher to anyone who asked but we are now considerably more enquiring about why people think they qualify and, as a result, spend considerably less!
My company used to pay for eye tests for everyone and up to £60 for specs. I joined and looked at the ammount of money from the health and safety budget that was wasted that could be been put to better far better use.
We now use a well known high street optician who operates a voucher scheme.(they are located in all of the towns/cities where we have regional offices). This costs just £17 per eye test. If the user needs glasses specifically for VDU use the optician provides a basic pair free of charge.
We will only give vouchers to habitual users and our savings have been huge, this money has been diverted to other health and safety issues
Employer appears to be trying to refrain from accepting the requirements of the DSE Regs because of a fear that all opticians will just put down 'for VDU use'. Not so. My eyesight has deteriorated recently because of the close screen work I am required to do but my optician believes that at my age my eyesight will deteriorate and I will probably need the glasses for normal reading as well so ticked two boxes (VDU and normal reading)- and on that basis my HR Dept argues that I have to pay.
Yes indeed, I believe this is the figure stated in the goverment DSE guidance.
The problem is as I see it, an employee goes to the optician because they have been suffering headaches, the optician says "do you use a VDU", employees relpies "yes" and the optician has a sale that is funded by the patients employee.
What I was looking for, was a clinical diagnosis?
I have found that less than 10% of our employees who have eye sight tests are actually prescribed glases for DSE work only.
Have the optician sign your form to say that the glasses are dispensed for DSE use only.
Is their a clinical name/condition that differentiates between Long sight and requirements for VDU use.
It is apparent that the majority of people as they age will require glasses for short or long sight, however, glasses for use on VDU appears to fall somewhere in between. Is this just the 1st stage on the road to a Long sight condition?
I am fearful of opening the floodgates on free glasses for all!
Any comments are welcome