Ways to reduce the harmful effects of visual display unit work

Ways to reduce the harmful effects of work involving the use of display screen equipment

Risk assessment

It is the employer’s duty to assess the risks posed by work that their employees perform using display screen equipment on their health and safety. Particular attention must be given to the potential harmful effects on employees’ eyes as well as excessive physical and psychosocial workloads. The employer should ideally involve their employees, occupational safety and health personnel and occupational health care professionals in the risk assessment process. To get the best possible results, it is important for employees who work on display screen equipment to take an active role in the development and improvement of their workstations. The employer must use the results of the risk assessment to ensure that their employees’ work and workstations do not pose a risk to their health. Issues can be eliminated, for example, by choosing the right furniture and positioning equipment and furniture more efficiently.

Posture

A good posture for working on display screen equipment is one in which

  • the backrest of your chair supports your lower back
  • your screen is the right distance away and straight ahead of you so that your eyes are looking slightly downwards
  • your forearms are supported by either your desk or the armrests of your chair, allowing you to relax your shoulders, and  
  • your feet are flat on the floor or a footrest.

Change positions every now and then if you can.

You can break up the monotony by stretching, resting your eyes, doing other tasks in between and organising your work so that you have to stand up from time to time. Positioning your printer away from your desk is often a good solution.

Equipment and furniture

Office chairs

Office chairs must be sufficiently sturdy and comfortable to sit on. They must be easy to adjust and provide support in different positions.

A good office chair is one that

  • is the right size and provides support in different positions
  • can be adjusted up or down
  • has a backrest that can be adjusted both in terms of height and angle to provide lumbar support
  • enables seat depth adjustment
  • has a seat that can be tilted for sitting in different positions, and
  • has armrests that can be easily adjusted to suit different work situations.

Other ergonomic considerations when working with display screen equipment

There are also various other ergonomic factors that can be tweaked to prevent the harmful effects of work involving the use of display screen equipment. These include, among others,

  • the positioning and layout of workspaces and workstations
  • lighting, ambient temperature and acoustics
  • the choice of screen, keyboard and mouse
  • the work surface
  • sight tests and eye examinations, and glasses designed specifically for working on display screen equipment, and
  • training and guidance.