Computer health and safety at work

Ensure healthy computer use at work: six top tips


Staff who work with computers for long periods can be at risk of injury to their hands, arms, neck or back. Eye strain and related problems like headaches can lead to absence and reduced productivity.

Under health and safety law, you must ensure that computer screens and associated equipment, including the working environment meet certain minimum requirements.

Employers have a duty to reduce the risks. Appropriate equipment, posture, workstation set-up and training can all help achieve this. Follow these tips to help staff to work safely at their computer.

1. Encourage staff to take short frequent breaks. Taking a five to ten minute break every hour will be more beneficial for employees than a longer break every two hours.

2. Adjust lighting to prevent glare. Turn overhead lights off or down, and close blinds or curtains when light is reflecting off screens.

3. All regularly used items on the desk, such as the phone, should be easily within reach. Staff should use their mouse with a relaxed arm and straight wrist.

4. Ensure your employee's screens are at the correct height (the top of the screen should be at eye-level) and are a suitable size for the task. Chairs should have adjustable height and seatbacks to let staff work comfortably.

5. If staff regularly use display screen equipment you must offer free eye tests for employees who use computers. If workers require special glasses for computer work, you will have to pay for the basic cost of the frames and lenses.

6. Offer a computer workstation risk assessment. Employers must carry these out for all computer users and take steps to reduce risks when problems are identified.