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What is the background to the Seminar?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations have been amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, which came into force on the 17th September 2002. The Consultative Document which heralded these changes gave the impression that this was a tidying up exercise and suggested that "The one-off cost of £30 million which was highly likely to be outweighed by increased productivity gain (and reduced absence, turnover etc) associated with these changes". On the currently available evidence, this appears to be doubtful. One of the many problems with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations is that the Directive from which they were derived (90/270/EEC) was the subject of political horse-trading between Member States which resulted in a motley collection of very badly expressed 'minimum ergonomic requirements', which have given rise to misunderstandings in the workplace and in the Courts.

The HSE's radically revised guidance on the DSE Regulations claims that the guidance has been revised "to bring it up to date with changes in technology and improvements in knowledge of risks and how to avoid them". While there is new guidance on the application of the Regulations to homeworkers, teleworkers and agency workers and new sections on 'Work with portable DSE' and 'Work with a mouse, trackball or other pointing device', in reality, the revised guidance suggests an increase in the scope of the DSE Regulations and effectively creates a range of new "users". The 'spin' now put on the health risks highlights the potential for upper limb disorders, back pain and work-related stress.

Recent Judgments in personal injury claims arising from DSE use will be used to illustrate the complex issues associated with an employer's duty of care, which are not addressed in the revised guidance. In addition, the seminar will explore how the health concerns associated with DSE use, which are not confined to musculoskeletal disorders and stress, have developed and might progress, e.g. recent reports of 'e-thrombosis', 'acoustic shock' and dysphonia, which are not addressed in the revised guidance.

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