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March 16, 2017

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The rise and rise of DSE and the implications for safety managers

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Recent research has revealed the extent of the use of display screen equipment (DSE) in the workplace and related concerns regarding eyesight.

The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, surveyed over 1,000 employees.

It found that 85% of employees spend at least an hour a day using DSE for work purposes, and 73% spent at least four hours a day working with DSE.

Almost half of employees (48%) spent at least 7 hours a day at a digital screen – nearly their entire working day.

Gender difference

Women are likely to spend more time looking at screens for work purposes than men. Over 80% of women spend at least four working hours a day on DSE, compared to 69% of men, and 53% of women spend seven or more working hours a day looking at DSE, compared to 46% of men.

Age-related

The use of DSE at work also decreases with age. Those under the age of 35 spent the most time using DSE, while those over 55 used it the least.

 

Age 4+ hours 7+ hours
Under 35 82% 65%
35-44 80%

51%

45-54 72% 44%
55+ 61% 32%

Despite these figures, just 40% of employees stated they receive eyecare benefits from their employer, such as free or subsidised eye tests or glasses. A significant 10% of employees did not know if they received eyecare benefits and nearly half stated they did not receive any eyecare from their employer.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, has emphasised the need for better communication: “The working hours people are spending in front of screens is, of course, likely to have increased over recent years but some employers may be surprised by quite how much time their employees now spend using DSE.

“This makes it more important than ever for employers to offer eyecare. It is a stipulation of the health and safety regulations that all screen users should receive company-funded eyecare and glasses, if required solely for DSE use.

“The fact that around half of employees state they do not receive such eyecare does not, however, necessarily mean it is not being provided. Communication is key here and it is vital that employers make employees aware of their entitlement and any eyecare that is available. In fact, it is even part of the DSE regulations that employers must not only fund eyecare but also communicate entitlement.”

Employer concerns

The research went on to survey over 500 senior HR decision makers at UK companies. Of these, 41% said they were concerned about employees’ eyesight as a result of their use of display screen equipment in their working role.

Linked to this, 45% of employers were concerned that employees spend too much time on display screen equipment in their working role – in other words, more time than is healthy for their eyes.

Jim Lythgow continued: ‘With the level of use of DSE in the workplace today, employers are bound to be concerned about their employees’ eyesight. Implementing a simple eyecare policy is not only obligatory under health and safety legislation, it can also have much wider benefits in terms of health, wellbeing, productivity and morale.

“The best way to achieve peace of mind is surely therefore to ensure a suitable eyecare policy is in place and to communicate the benefits widely to all employees.”

Download further information on the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations and free downloadable communications materials visit.

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Bob Wallace
Bob Wallace
5 years ago

This statement – “Linked to this, 45% of employers were concerned that employees spend too much time on display screen equipment in their working role – in other words, more time than is healthy for their eyes”, could indicate that employers want their employees away from the screens and doing other more valuable work, or that the sedentary nature of current work practices is unhealthy etc. A corporate director, who could be construed as touting for more business, is not a reliable source of OH&S information. There is still no evidence that DSE use impacts eyesight and I speak as… Read more »

safetylady
safetylady
5 years ago

Well said Bob.
Yet another survey disguised as a proper article, by a commercially interested party.
Presumably the population of ’employees’ surveyed and the ‘workplace’ deliberately only included office workers anyway, as employees in manufacturing, farming or construction workplaces do not spend 85% of their time with ‘DSE’.
Sooner we can kick DSE regs into touch the better.

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
5 years ago

Trouble is SafetyLady that, 58% + of DSE user operators do suffer, anything but, “temporary” visual stress and physical strain presenting in RSI type injuries resulting from over-exposure to sub-optimally calibrated display screen equipment. HSE Better Display Screen RR561 (2007) accepted that the UK DSE Regs solely risk assessing the ergonomics of workstations has done little or nothing to mitigate the exposure as the regs do not do “what is says on the tin” and are therefore a waste of space if the user – equipment interface is not also risk assessed – simple’sss As CVS & Screen Fatigue have… Read more »