A DSE user is a person using display screen equipment (computer equipment) for more than an hour in their normal working day. The following information is helpful for anyone classed as a DSE user.
Posture – A person using computer equipment should sit so that their shoulders are relaxed their arms are at 90° at the elbow and they should then be able to reach the keyboard without having to stretch up or down. If they are unable to keep their feet flat on the floor, they need to have a footrest.
Chair – Standard DSE user chair has a five wheelbase and adjustments for seat height, backrest height and backrest tilt. It is also recommended that the chair has a separate adjustable lumbar support and adjustable armrests. The chair height should be adjusted so the person is able to adopt the posture as above. The chair backrest should then be adjusted so that the lumbar support fits into the small of the users back and the tilt should be adjusted so that it is holding the user upright allowing the muscles in the back to relax. A chair should have an adjustable lumbar support to allow good support into the lower back and adjustable armrests that can be pushed down so the user can get in close to the edge of the desk, but the armrests are there to help with relaxing when not using the computer, standing or sitting. The chair seat height should be adjusted to the height of the desk.
Desk – Suitable office desks will have a height from the top of desk to the floor of between 71cm and 73cm. Those working from home should be aware that using a kitchen or dining table will mean that the height of the table will be higher, and it is not always possible to adjust the chair seat height to a suitable level. Depending on the amount of equipment, a desk can be 120cm up to 160cm in width and approximately 80cm in depth.
Screen – Some people need to use just one screen; others need to use two or three and perhaps also need to view a laptop screen. The user should ensure that they sit between the screens and that they are all at the same height and distance. If a person is a touch typist, then the top of the visual part of the screen should be just below eye level. If they are not a touch typist but need to look down at the keyboard, then the top of the screens should be dropped 2cm to 3cm. If a laptop is being used a laptop riser should also be provided so the screen on the laptop is the same height and distance as the other screens.
Keyboard – The standard keyboard that is provided with computer equipment is one that has a number pad attached on the right side of the keyboard. Depending upon the type of work that is required this may not be suitable as it will push the mouse over to far to the right for anyone that is right-handed. Alternatives that a DSE user could trial is having the mouse on the left side of the keyboard or, alternatively, having a mini keyboard that does not have a number pad. Keyboard should be 5cm to 10cm from the edge of the desk and directly in front of the DSE user.
Mouse – Mouse positioning should be directly in front of the hand and 5cm to 10cm from the edge of desk. If a person has any issues affecting their wrist and arm or neck they may benefit from an ergonomic vertical mouse.
Telephone – Most people using computer equipment now do not require use of a separate telephone. Instead, any calls are made through the computer. For those that do still need to use a separate telephone they should ensure that the telephone is close to the edge of the desk so they do not have to stretch for it and the DSE user should be provided with a headset.
Document holder – If a DSE user must also look at paperwork or documents it is not recommended they have these to the side on the desk as this will mean additional twisting and potentially causing issues affecting the neck and upper back. A document holder that fits between screen and keyboard may be suitable or, if the DSE user is a touch typist, a document holder that attaches to the screen would be more suitable.
Breaks – It is strongly recommended that a person using a computer for more than an hour should take a short break at least every hour. During the break the user should stand, stretch and exercise the muscles in the neck, back, shoulders and arms. As it can sometimes be difficult judging how long they’ve been sat for, users may find it helpful to drink plenty of fluids as this will ensure they have natural breaks. During the break the DSE user should also relax the eye muscles by focusing on objects in the distance.