icco - institute of call centre operators

Servicing the Call Centre and Operator community

employers staffing issues

Display screen equipment (DSE) working practises

Hot desking:

'Hot-desking' (i.e. workstations are not assigned, so individuals sit at whichever desk is vacant) is becoming more common in typical offices, but it is standard practice in many call centres. Some call handlers may sit at any workstation within their team area, and different shifts may also use the same team area. Sometimes, whole teams move to another area in a call centre. Other call handlers sit anywhere in a call centre, not necessarily with their team. Some even hot-desk within a shift, sitting at a different workstation after a break. Hot-desking may affect the health and safety of call handlers so should not be introduced without consultation with call handlers or their representatives in good time.


As for any employer, it is the duty of call centre managers to provide their employees with adequate health and safety training, as required by regulation 6 of the DSER. The planning and organisation of this training should be done in consultation with call handlers or their representatives, and '5 steps to information instruction and training' may be a useful reference. As the majority of risks to call handlers' health arise from working with display screen equipment, a significant proportion of the training should focus on the risks identified in risk assessments, how call handlers can recognise them and the importance of good DSE working practices in reducing these risks to physical and psychological health. The responsibility that individuals have for controlling risks should be explained and call handlers should be trained how to minimise the risks themselves, but the procedures they should follow if they need help should also be made clear. This training does not absolve the employer of their responsibility to take appropriate steps to control the risks identified in the risk assessments.

The technology and software used by the call centre industry is fast developing, and call handlers or their representatives should be consulted on the health and safety consequences of the introduction of new technology. Call handlers should be trained to use any new technology and software even if there are only relatively subtle changes. Call handlers should also be trained how to use new furniture, particularly chairs. It should not be assumed that the adjustments are obvious, and the introduction of new furniture is a good juncture to refresh call handlers' training on equipment set up in general.

provision of information:

Provision of information: Employers have a duty to provide call handlers with information on the various risks of using display screen equipment and how their employer is controlling those risks (Regulation 7 DSER). 'Working with VDUs' may be a useful reference. The provision of this information should be done in consultation with call handlers or their representatives.

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