Health and Safety standard

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and Portable Workstations Standard

Management of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and Portable Workstations (Laptops)

Date of Approval June 2017 Expiry Date  June 2019
Author and Topic Lead Rhian Loosemore, Health and Safety Advisor
Aims The University is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all staff and students. This standard sets out the responsibilities for implementing the requirements of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002). The standard explains the steps that should be taken by managers and their staff to ensure that all DSE Users have been identified, have been assessed and risks relating to their workstations controlled.
Scope This standard applies to all staff defined as DSE Users across all campuses of the University of Exeter.
Definitions Display screen equipment (DSE)
Relevant Legislation Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002)
Responsibility for implementation Overall responsibility for Health & Safety in the Colleges rests with the Dean and he/she has a management team in place to support the implementation of this standard. In Professional Services, Heads of Department have responsibility for implementation.
Definitions DSE ‘User’:employees (including PhD / Post Graduate students and temporary workers) that use DSE as a significant part of their normal work defined in the regulations as follows:

Employees that normally use DSE for continuous or near-continuous spells of an hour or more at a time; and

  • use DSE in this way more or less daily; and
  • have to transfer information quickly to or from the DSE; and
  • need to apply high levels of attention and concentration; or
  • are highly dependent on DSE or have little choice about using it; or
  • need special training or skills to use the DSE

Line Manager: any person who manages staff at the University of Exeter who is defined as a DSE User under the requirements of this standard.

Flexible Working:  a dedicated workstation is not provided to a DSE User and they are required to work from workstations that are available to them on a given day, usually within the same space e.g. office of their normal place of work

Hot Desk:  a workstation to be used by staff/students for short periods of time (1 hour or less), usually, but not exclusively, using a laptop.


 The DSE Regulations do not apply to employees who use DSE infrequently (less than daily) or daily for short periods (less than an hour at a time). However, the controls described in the guidance notes may still be a useful point of reference for these employees.

In addition, the DSE Regulations also states that they do not apply to:

  • (a)    Drivers’ cabs or control cabs for vehicles or machinery
  • (b)    Display screen equipment on board a means of transport
  • (c)     Display screen equipment mainly intended for public operation
  • (d)    Portable systems not in prolonged use e.g. smart phones, tablets and other portable hand-held devices
  • (e)    Calculators, cash registers or any equipment having a small data or measurement display required for direct use of the equipment; or
  • (f)        Window typewriters
Training availability: Health and Safety Induction (online course)
Health and Safety Refresh (online course)

Standard to meetAccountabilityReference documents and more information
1. All staff will receive information, instruction and training regarding the arrangements in place for DSE ‘Users’ during the Health and Safety Induction (online) training.    
2. Colleges / Professional Services are responsible for ensuring that all staff completes Health and Safety Induction (online).

Pro-Vice Chancellor

Heads of Department

Line Manager


All DSE Users will complete a DSE workstation self-assessment at the start of their employment and following major changes to the equipment, furniture, work environment or software such as:

  • Users change workstations
  • The nature of work tasks change considerably
  • It is thought that the controls in place may be causing other problems
There is guidance to support this process called “Guidance for setting up your workstation”.


DSE User

DSE Workstation self-assessment

Guidance for setting up your workstation


4.  College Management Teams / Professional Services managers must ensure that all DSE Users have completed the DSE Self-Assessment form at the start of employment and following major changes to the equipment, furniture, work environment or software (as noted in point 3 above). Line Manager  
5. Upon completion of the DSE Self-Assessment Form, the DSE User should follow the instructions within the form and inform their line manager of any identified DSE issues. DSE user/Line Manager  
6. College Management Teams / Professional Services managers must ensure that they seek assistance if required from the Health and Safety Team if they are unsure of the changes required to the workstation as a result of a DSE Self-Assessment being completed.

Where it is deemed necessary to make alterations to the workstation (according to findings of the DSE assessment and/or any Health and Safety Advisor/Occupational Health Advisor), the College or Professional Service will be responsible for funding these improvements,  so far as reasonably practicable.

Line Managers
7.  It is recommended that DSE Users have regular interruptions from screen work to prevent the onset of eye strain, and musculoskeletal pain.  Therefore, periods of 5 minutes of alternative work activity every hour should be organised during the working day. This could include a change of task from DSE use to other tasks. Managers must encourage these interruptions. DSE User/Line Manager  

 Laptop / portable equipment users

Where laptops and other portable equipment is being used for prolonged periods of time or is being set up as the primary IT system by a DSE User, the DSE User will carry out a DSE Self-Assessment after referring to the information provided in the “Guidance for Laptop Users”.

DSE User Guidance for setting up your workstation for a laptop
9.  The DSE User must take responsibility to look after and not misuse or interfere with any DSE equipment or furniture or other items provided in the interests of safety. DSE User  



The University has a duty to provide all DSE Users with the means to have an eye examination and sight test upon request.

An eye sight test voucher scheme is in place at the University which permits the DSE User to an eye sight test. To apply for an eye sight test voucher, DSE Users must complete the form PD41 and attach an up to date DSE Self-Assessment form and send both documents to the Health and Safety Team, Hope Hall or via email to:

NB: Eye sight test vouchers will only be issued to DSE users on receipt of both documents.


DSE Users

PD41 Request DSE eye test voucher


DSE eye sight test information

11.  Eye sight test vouchers will be sent to the DSE User via email to the address provided on the PD41 form.

The Health and Safety Team will only issue eye sight test vouchers to the DSE Users who apply for them.

NB: The Health and Safety Team reserve the right to make enquiries with managers regarding applications.

Health and Safety Team  
12. Where employees work at home to conduct DSE related work, the DSE User should carry out a DSE Self-Assessment of their home workstation.

The University is not required, under the DSE regulations to provide equipment for employees who choose to work from home; however the College / Professional Service can recommend that the DSE User follows the information provided in the Guidance for Home Working information in order that they can set up their workstation as ergonomically as possible.

If staff are required to work from home as part of their job, the University will ensure that equipment is provided where the Home Working Assessment indicates that adjustments are needed.

DSE Users/Line Managers  Guidance for home working

Flexible working (user responsibilities)

DSE users are required to complete a DSE Self-Assessment once per year and identify the correct method of adjusting each workstation they use to suit their personal needs.

The DSE user is also responsible for reporting any deficiencies to the workstations to their line manager.

Flexible working (Manager responsibilities)

Line managers who are responsible for staff required to work within a flexible working environment will ensure that all workstations are equipped with suitably adjustable furniture and equipment to ensure that staff can make the necessary adjustments to the workstations to enable them to set them up to suit their needs, regardless of location.

Adjustable equipment includes (but not limited to):

  • Chair (adjustable) – height, seat depth, lumbar support
  • Desk – DSE users have access to a height adjustable version
  • Monitors – height adjustable or screen risers made available to DSE users
  • Footrest – made available to DSE Users


DSE User/Line Manager Guidance for setting up your workstation

 Hot desks (staff and student responsibilities)
Staff/students are required to adjust the workstation to suit their personal needs and must only use this type of workstation for short periods of time (1 hour or less) e.g. in-between meetings when working away from their normal place of work.
Staff/students are responsible for reporting any deficiencies to the workstations to their line manager, or Campus Services (or equivalent) if using a hot desk that has been designed for this purpose e.g. in a shared area within University managed/occupied buildings.

 Hot desks (Manager responsibilities)

A hot desk can be equipped with basic desktop equipment e.g. monitor (height adjustable), standard keyboard and mouse. A height adjustable desk is not essential and a docking station for laptops should be provided if the workstation is intended by design to be a hot desk.


Line Managers/Campus Services (or equivalent)


15. Colleges / Professional Services have an option to train key members of staff to become DSE Assessors. These people will be trained to carry out DSE assessments and lead in the coordination of DSE assessment within their department or area of work.

NB: For further information please contact the Health and Safety Team direct via email.

Colleges / Professional Services Health and Safety Team
Standard monitoring and measurement criteria

Annually the Topic Lead for DSE will carry out a review to ensure that all elements of the standard are being implemented effectively across all Colleges and Professional Services. Performance scoring criteria will be set in advance.

Specifically the following will be measured


From a sample of no less that 50 fixed DSE workstations from across Colleges and Professional Services identify

a. How many DSE users have a DSE self-assessment completed

b. How many DSE Users have applied for an eye sight test voucher

2. From the sample in point 1 above:
  • Identify the number of workstations that have required action to be taken to address issues raised in the assessment (amber or red) and of these;
  • The number that have had action taken to reduce the risk
  The results of the review will be shared with each College and department within Professional Services, indicating learning and action that needs to be taken. A summary of compliance will be reported to the Health and Safety Consultative Committee annually.