DSE Guidance: Setting up your workstation

Guidance for managers/supervisors and employees (including PGT,PhD and PGR students not including undergraduates).

Many of us are now working from home regularly, or working both on campus and at home. We want to make sure that wherever your workstation is, it is fit for purpose and comfortable. We want you to take care of yourself, and make changes if needed.  

We can’t keep ‘making do’ or ignoring any niggles. Even if you’re happy with your workstation there may be small improvements that can be made. 

It is good practice for all staff and postgraduate students to review their current workstation setup by following the guidance provided below and also complete a workstation assessment (formerly known as the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Assessment) which can be found on the self-assessment tab below.

Adjustments can be made with a bit of inventiveness and flexibility to create a working setup to suit your needs. This will include taking more frequent, breaks throughout the working day to maintain physical, mental and emotional wellbeing 

There is useful advice and information below about setting up a workstation which helps to identify any additional needs.  If, having completed a self-assessment, you experience significant difficulties in setting up your workstation please contact the Health & Safety Team to arrange a one-to-one telephone assessment (via Teams).

The workstation assessment (formerly known as the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) self-assessment) is a checklist for staff and students to use to ensure that workstations are set up to the best of their ability, to reduce the risk of pain and ill health that can be associated with the use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Everyone is required to carry out a workstation assessment to ascertain whether assistance is required.

It must be recognised and acknowledged that for those that continue to work from home, despite having equipment and technology a perfect working setup (as on campus) may not be achievable.

If, having completed a workstation assessment, you experience significant difficulties in setting up your homework station please contact the Health & Safety team to arrange a one to one telephone assessment (via Microsoft Teams). 

NB: The workstation assessment is now a Microsoft form.‌

After the workstation set-up guidance has been followed and the workstation assessment‌‌ checklist has been completed additional equipment may be required.

Noted below are instructions on how to acquire equipment on loan direct from the University's stock or purchased from suppliers to be sent directly to a home address or campus location.

NB: All requests made by staff or students to loan equipment for home use must be approved by the line Manager/Supervisor. Where purchase is required College/Service Key Contacts need to be informed to facilitate the process. The Health & Safety Team  are able to provide advice and guidance with reference to purchasing appropriate equipment for more specialised or complex requirements. 


Delivery (direct from Suppliers):‌

College/Service Key Contacts

Occupational Health

More information on wellbeing can be found on the Occupational Health web page.

Breaks and exercises

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 and taking time out to exercise.

Other hints and tips

Prior to requesting an eye-care voucher, you are expected to complete the DSE Self-Assessment (dated August 2020) and share the outcome with your line manager in the first instance and any significant outcomes with the H&S Team to request additional advice and guidance if required via: safety@exeter.ac.uk

The way that applications for eye-care vouchers is administered changed on 1st September 2020. Instead of sending an application form (PD41) to the Health & Safety Team along with your completed DSE Self-Assessment, you can submit a request for an eye-care voucher direct to Specsavers via a link which is embedded within the DSE Self-Assessment form (dated August 2020).

To book an appointment and for information on how they are keeping their stores safe please visit the Specsavers website. Vouchers expire twelve months from the date of issue please redeem the voucher soon after you receive it from Specsavers.

Vouchers are issued via an auto email from Specsavers, if you don’t receive an email within a few days of submitting a request for a voucher please check your spam/junk folder.


For those that either have reasonable adjustments in place for campus working already provided or are in need of specialist DSE or work equipment as new issues have developed, every effort will be made to provide these items to a home address or on campus location. Where this is not possible, Managers/Supervisors will work with employees to establish a suitable alternative. These may include a review of working arrangements/workload as appropriate. 

Everyone needs to be mindful that some equipment may not be available to purchase direct from suppliers and/or University due to depleted stock. Our priority will be to set up safer ways of working using existing equipment, without the need to procure new where possible. 



Lone Working

To reduce the feeling of isolation it is imperative that you maintain contact (remotely) with colleagues via social media or other technical means eg MS Teams. If you are feeling anxious about being isolated from friends and colleagues contact your line manager and consider the following:

  •  know how to contact your line manager and colleagues;
  •  have a system for regularly "checking in" with your line manager and colleagues.


Slip, trip or fall hazards -  Consider the following:

  • floor coverings are secure,
  • walkways and corridors are clear of trip hazards,
  • the floor area around your work station clear of boxes, papers and cables.

Fire Safety

Consider the following:

  • smoke detectors working and regularly checked ie monthly,
  • dispose of waste, including papers, regularly to prevent a build-up of fire "fuel",
  • don't overload extension cables* switch off equipment when not in use.

Report any defects issued to University issued IT equipment via the IT Helpdesk and to your line manager or change personally owned electrical equipment that's showing signs of damage or deterioration

Electrical Safety

A "User Check" of all electrical equipment should be done daily before use to check for signs that it may not be in sound condition. These checks also apply to extension leads, plugs and sockets.

You should check the following:

  • damage, apart from light scuffing, to the supply cable, including frays or cuts
  • inadequate joints, including taped joints in the cable
  • signs that the outer sheath of the cable is not effectively secured where it enters the plug or the equipment (evidence of this would be the coloured insulation of the internal cable cores are showing)
  • damage to plug or connector, eg cracked casing or bent pins
  • damage to the external casing of the equipment, loose parts or screws
  • evidence of overheating eg burn marks or discolouration
  • the equipment has become wet or contaminated eg something has been spilt on it

Report any defects to University issued IT equipment via the IT Helpdesk and to your line manager