Skip to content
Physics and Astronomy
Home School documents Safety Manual 15. PCs & Visual Display Units
Back to top

School of Physics Safety Manual



The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 apply to employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. A qualified assessor must assess these workstations and DSE.

A number of health problems are attributed to use of DSE. Where problems occur, they are generally caused by the way in which DSEs are used rather than the DSE itself. Some users may get aches and pains in their hands, wrists, arms, neck, shoulders or back, especially after long periods of uninterrupted DSE work. Usually these pains do not last but in a few cases they may become persistent or disabling. RSI is a popular term for these aches, pains and disorders but a better medical name for the whole group of disorders is “upper limb disorders”. Problems of this kind may have a physical cause, but may also be more likely if the DSE user feels stressed by the work.

Problems can usually be avoided by good workplace design and by good working practices. Prevention is easiest if action is taken early, before the problem has become serious.

Tips for setting up and using your computer workstation are as below.


  • Separate from screen
  • Adjustable tilt
  • Keep wrists straight, elbows at 90 degrees and arms parallel to the floor
  • Keep it directly in front of you and away from edge of desk


  • Position at a comfortable angle and distance (typically: eyes level with top of screen, screen tilted up slightly and at a distance of about 60cm from eyes)
  • Adjust brightness/contrast/distance/angle, if causing eye fatigue
  • Position at right angles to windows
  • Avoid glare from fluorescent lights (preferably between rows of lights)
  • Keep clean

Document Holder (optional)

  • At same height, angle and distance from screen, as near to the screen as possible


·         Large enough to allow you to change position

·         Wide enough to allow you to sit at a sufficient distance from the screen and to move the keyboard away from the edge of the desk

·         Sufficient legroom (no obstructions underneath)

·         Uncluttered (keep mouse and telephone close to hand)


  • Adjustable seat height and backrest height and tilt
  • Good lumbar support
  • Preferably without arm rests
  • Adjust to allow feet on floor (or footrest) with hips at right angles
  • Back straight and arms at right angle to the desk


  • Recommended 5 minutes away from screen (and other “close” work) per 30 minutes, or 10 minutes per hour (more frequent, shorter breaks are better)
  • Alter posture by exercising/getting up and moving around
  • Rest eyes by focusing on distant objects

Good Environmental Practice

  • Turn off your computer (processor and monitor) when not in use (eg. at lunchtime and overnight)
  • If you wish to leave your processor on during lunchtime and short absences from the office, turn off your monitor (it consumes more than half the total power used by your computer)

Validate   Link-check © Copyright & disclaimer Privacy & cookies Share
Back to top