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(39%) and back pain (37%). Symptoms were consistently more prevalent among those who spent more time at their computer at work and among those who worked for longer without a break.

An incorrectly calibrated screen, pressure at work, long hours, and missing breaks all compound fatigue until DSE users very quickly lose the stamina and concentration to maintain the correct posture that is essential to avoid pain in the short term, and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the long-term. This compounded fatigue, exacerbated by a sleepless night or stressful day can rapidly lead to vigilance decremation and decreased concentration, greatly increasing the risk of mishaps and accidents in the workplace and elsewhere.

DSE LEGISLATION – INEFFECTIVE AND UNENFORCEABLE? EU directive 90/270/EEC was introduced in May 1990 to lay down minimum health and safety requirements for work with display screen equipment.

The employer is obliged, under this legislation, to:

• Provide a full risk assessment for all workstations with particular regard to screen use, eyesight, physical issues, and stress reduction.

• Remedy any risks found and ensure workstations meet minimum requirements.

• Plan employees’ activities so that daily work on a display screen is periodically interrupted by breaks or changes of activity, reducing fatigue at the screen.

mental and physical issues related to screen use.

• To reduce the number of injuries that occurs as a result of unnecessary fatigue.

• To improve performance and productivity by an average of twenty percent.

• To enable employers to meet current and future DSE legislation.


• Provide training to all employees in workstation and DSE use.

• Provide eye and eyesight tests before employees commence screen work, at regular intervals thereafter, and if they experience screen fatigue at work.

HSE’s report concluded that: “Comparing these results with those of earlier research provides no positive evidence that the introduction of legislation on DSE work in 1993 has reduced ill-health in DSE workers.” Significantly, they questioned the extent to which the legislation has been enforced.

The first obstacle was that responsibility for an employee’s health and wellbeing had traditionally rested with the employee. The second difficulty was the employer having to rely on subjective reporting of employees’ wellbeing

issues. Without a reasonably objective method of measuring risk, it is not possible to address any risks.

The first obstacle fell earlier this year when the legal cases Threlfall vs. Hull City Council and Baker vs. Quantam Clothing found, in both instances, that employers were liable for their employees’ wellbeing if the risks to health could reasonably have been anticipated. This signified an important shift in responsibility.

EYE SCIENCE Since 2001, Eye Science have been working to overcome the second difficulty by developing a comprehensive, universal solution for DSE users and their employers, reducing Screen Fatigue and related injuries, and improving wellbeing and productivity. Eye Science aims;

• To reduce the incidence of

In addition to the usual workstation risk- assessment, clients are given a comprehensive screen assessment; this meets the initial element of EU legislation and allows the rest of the process to be more tailored to each company.

The next step is software use – companies are given access to the Eye Science software online, allowing them to run tests on their own screens on-demand, including the diagnostic programme that establishes the optimum screen settings for each individual user.

Finally, the software registers with the Eye Science server each time it is used, acting as a record of the employer and employees’ compliance with all DSE legislation.

Twenty-one years of hindsight and some fairly obvious foresight inform us that screens will continue to cause injury to employees and impair performance and productivity while the risks remain unaddressed. Absenteeism costs UK businesses £32bn each year while the number of reported MSDs continue to rise and employers become increasingly responsible for the health and wellbeing of their staff – the cost of continuing to ignore the collateral damage is surely greater than the cost of addressing it.


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