DSE Workstation Assessment and Checklist

January 2, 2014
Clock Icon 4 min read

Display Screen Equipment is used in almost every workplace and, whilst not dangerous itself, can cause aches, pains, disorders and discomfort if not used correctly. With a few simple precautions, however, you can use your workstation equipment comfortably and productively.

What is DSE?

DSE stands for Display Screen Equipment and covers any device or equipment that has a graphic, alphanumeric or plasma display screen. This includes, but is not limited to, equipment such as:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Smart phones
  • Television screens
  • Video monitors

Sometimes you may see DSE referred to as ‘VDUs’, meaning Visual Display Units, though this is a previous description and ‘DSE’ is now accepted as the standard term.

The minimum health and safety requirements for Display Screen Equipment (DSE) workstations (as contained in the Annex to Council Directive 90/270/EEC(a)) are as follows:

Display Screen

man sitting down to a mac computer

  • The characters on the screen shall be well-defined and clearly formed, of adequate size and with adequate spacing between the characters and lines.
  • The image on the screen should be stable, with no flickering or other forms of instability.
  • The brightness and the contrast between the characters and the background shall be easily adjustable by the operator or user, and also be easily adjustable to ambient conditions.
  • The screen must swivel and tilt easily and freely to suit the needs of the operator or user.
  • It shall be possible to use a separate base for the screen or an adjustable table.
  • The screen shall be free of reflective glare and reflections liable to cause discomfort to the operator or user.


  • The keyboard should tilt and be separate from the screen so as to allow the operator or user to find a comfortable working position avoiding fatigue in the arms or hands.
  • The space in front of the keyboard shall be sufficient to provide support for the hands and arms of the operator or user.
  • The keyboard shall have a matt surface to avoid reflective glare.
  • The arrangement of the keyboard and the characteristics of the keys shall be such as to facilitate the use of the keyboard.
  • The symbols on the keys shall be adequately contrasted and legible from the design working position.

Work Desk or Work Surface

dse workstation desk surface

  • The work desk or work surface shall have a sufficiently large, low-reflectance surface and allow a flexible arrangement of the screen, keyboard, documents and related equipment.
  • The document holder shall be stable and adjustable and shall be positioned so as to minimise the need for uncomfortable head and eye movements.
  • There shall be adequate space for operators or users to find a comfortable position.

Work Chair

  • The work chair shall be stable and allow the operator or user easy freedom of movement and a comfortable position.
  • The seat shall be adjustable in height.
  • The seat back shall be adjustable in both height and tilt.
  • A footrest shall be made available to any operator or user who wishes one.

Space Requirements

an office space with five desks and a bookcase

  • The workstation shall be dimensioned and designed so as to provide sufficient space for the operator or user to change position and vary movements.


  • Any room lighting or task lighting provided shall ensure satisfactory lighting conditions and an appropriate contrast between the screen and the background environment, taking into account the type of work and the vision requirements of the operator or user.
  • Possible disturbing glare and reflections on the screen or other equipment shall be prevented by co-ordinating workplace and workstation layout with the positioning and technical characteristics of the artificial light sources.

Reflections and Glare

man sitting at an apple mac looking at the screen

  • Workstations shall be so designed that sources of light, such as windows and other openings, transparent or translucid walls, and brightly coloured fixtures or walls cause no direct glare and no distracting reflections on the screen.
  • Windows shall be fitted with a suitable system of adjustable covering to attenuate the daylight that falls on the workstation.


  • Noise emitted by equipment belonging to any workstation shall be taken into account when a workstation is being equipped, with a view in particular to ensuring that attention is not distracted and speech is not disturbed.


  • Equipment belonging to any workstation shall not produce excess heat which could cause discomfort to operators or users.


  • All radiation with the exception of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum shall be reduced to negligible levels from the point of view of the protection of operators’ or users’ health and safety.


  • An adequate level of humidity shall be established and maintained.

Use the following checklist to assess whether the risks from your workstation need further action. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions then ensure that you take remedial action:

Risk Factor Yes or No Action to Take
Are the characters on screen easy to read?
Does the image flicker?
Are the screen brightness settings ok?
Does the screen tilt so it can be adjusted for the user?
Can you adjust the height of the screen?
Can the keyboard position be altered?
Does the keyboard have a matt surface?
Are the keys on the keyboard legible?
Is the arrangement of equipment flexible on the work surface?
Is there adequate space to find a comfortable position whilst working?
Is the chair stable?
Can the chair’s height and back be adjusted?
Is there a footrest?
Are there satisfactory lighting conditions?
Are there any disturbing glares or reflections on the screen?
Does daylight fall onto the workstation?
Does the equipment emit any distracting noises?
Does the equipment produce excessive heat that may be uncomfortable?
Is there an adequate level of humidity?


Further Resources:

Like This Article?
Share it on social.