Making sense of DSE desk assessment regulations in the hybrid working world


Shane Lowe

CEO & Co-founder

Insight author headshot

Since pre-pandemic days, employers have struggled to understand DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment regulations and working from home health and safety.

A study carried out by Specsavers revealed that less than 50% of employers fully understand DSE and desk assessment regulations. Only 30% are in full compliance.

We surveyed HR and Health and Safety leaders at global companies to understand how employers are approaching DSE assessment compliance and desk worker injury prevention in the hybrid working world.


What were the results?

The survey revealed the following key insights:

  • Employers care about wellbeing and productivity - they are already running initiatives and are happy to put budget into improving these
  • Employers need more information to aid decision-making - they don’t know what their employees’ needs are or how best to measure or address them
  • Employers don’t understand their legal requirements or compliance - this is particularly common in complex, multinational firms

Over 70% of surveyed companies took action at the start of the pandemic to help employees improve their home workspaces. Equipment was transported from offices to homes. ‘Work-from-home budgets’ were given to employees to spend at their discretion.

However in many cases, employees didn’t understand how to best use these budgets to improve their workspaces and employers were never able to measure the impact or return on their investment.

The past 18 months have been focused on maintaining team morale and productivity. Attention has now turned to longer-term planning for remote and hybrid working, including compliance with regulatory requirements.

For the majority of companies, complaints of back pain or other musculoskeletal issues are on the rise, yet only 10% of surveyed employers said they fully understand workspace regulations for DSE and desk assessments for hybrid working.

Even the companies providing the most generous work-from-home budgets found that employees were not substantially better set up to work remotely than they were before, and were only marginally closer to regulatory compliance.


What are the requirements?

Most countries have regulations on the type of workspace that employers must provide for desk workers.

Pre-2020 regulations mostly focused on office-based workers, but requirements for remote workers have now largely been updated in line with those for office workers.

Broadly, employers have two core requirements under the regulations:

  1. Assess the suitability of a desk workers’ workspace, particularly an ergonomic assessment of quality of the workspace.
  2. Train employees how to work safely in their environment, including ergonomics, equipment and healthy behaviours like taking frequent breaks.

Employers who do not comply with both requirements are likely to be in direct breach of the regulations.

You can read more about DSE and desk assessment regulations and your duty of care as an employer in our whitepaper.


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