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September 19, 2017

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Research: smartphones ‘should be considered DSE’

Employers need to consider employee use of smartphones in their Display Screen Equipment (DSE) policies, new research has claimed.

The study, conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, reveals the extent to which staff now use smartphones everyday in working roles.

It showed:

  • 23% of employers said all workers now use smartphones as part of their role
  • 60% said at least half used phones as part of their role
  • Only 7% said none of employees use smartphones for their job

Working pattern change

The figures showed how prevalent the use of handheld devices has become in the workplace, often for a wide range of purposes across different sectors.

As a result, it has now been suggested that employers should ensure eyecare-at-work policies reflect the change, as the nature of classification as a ‘screen user’ has shifted.

Not in use

Director of strategic alliances for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, Jim Lythgow, said the only reason smartphones aren’t in the DSE regulations is they weren’t in use when last amended in 2002.

He said: “The regulations do, however, only exclude portable DSE that is not in prolonged use (reg 1.4.d.). So, it is the length of time employees are using screens that is more relevant than the type or size of screens they use.”

Although smart phone technology is not specifically covered by the DSE Regulations, HSE guidance states that “portable DSE and handheld devices are subject to the Regulations if in prolonged use for work purposes.”

Prolonged use

While there are no “hard-and-fast rules” on ‘prolonged’ use, the study said, it is reasonable to conclude portable equipment used by an employee for a significant part of their normal work could be regarded as covered by the DSE Regulations.

This may relate to frequency of use, employees needing to apply high levels of attention and concentration to the DSE task, being highly dependent on DSE, or have little choice about using it.


Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

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Patrick McLoughlin
Patrick McLoughlin
2 years ago

Not sure what the purpose of this article is because there is no real conclusion, but: The DSE Regs 1992, (Reg 1.4.d) actually say that “(4) Nothing in these Regulations shall apply to or in relation to. – (d) portable systems not in prolonged use; Further, under what is or is not prolonged use, the Guidance Note suggests that even a “Community care worker. Using a portable computer to make notes during and/or following interviews or visits in the field” is only a “possibly display screen user” So, unless we are talking about rewriting the Regulations and Guidance, to change… Read more »

A. Nonymouse
A. Nonymouse
2 years ago

Nothing to do with the potential for increased revenues from eye tests and employer funded spectacles then….

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
2 years ago

Nothing to do with PPE or screen glasses other than for those with a defined refractive / visual impairment issues however, it is absolutely and directly linked to “Work Exposure Limits” associated with continued use of sub-optimally calibrated, customised, optimised or adapted DSE interface ergonomics. As, whether a fluent reader or on the spectrum of functionally and digitally illiterate, with a reading rate below 180 word per minute, Screen Fatigue, or Computer Vision Syndrome as known elsewhere, will have a cumulative affect over the day when use operation exceeds an hour. Screen Fatigue or CVS, which ever you prefer, is… Read more »

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