icco - institute of call centre operators

Servicing the Call Centre and Operator community

employers staffing issues

Display screen equipment (DSE) working practises

Analysis of workstation to assess and reduce risks:

Call handlers are DSE users, as they use DSE habitually for most of their working day. In comparison to typical office workers, call handlers may be at a higher risk from DSE-related hazards, as they do not usually have the same opportunities as typical office workers to take breaks from display screen activities. The main work activities required of call handlers are to respond to telephone calls and simultaneously use a computer to provide information and enter data. The job of a typical office worker, however, usually also includes tasks such as photocopying and filing. Changes in task such as these provide typical office workers with opportunities to take breaks from display screen activities that call handlers do not have. The risk assessments of call centres should, therefore, make detailed reference to the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (DSER) and should be done in consultation with employees. 'VDUs An easy guide to the regulations, 'Successful health and safety management' and 'Managing health and safety: Five steps to success' may also help you with the risk assessment process. Local Authority Circular 16/1 gives advice to local authority enforcement officers on the DSER.

The paperwork associated with DSE assessments for each workstation can be reduced in two ways. Firstly, records of DSE assessments can be held electronically. Secondly, if groups of workstations are in very similar situations, only one assessment is needed for the whole group. With either option, a DSE assessment must be conducted with each individual call handler at a workstation to identify any personal requirements such as their need for a footrest or a specialist chair.

Where employees are not represented by safety representatives under the 1977 Regulations, the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 apply. Under these Regulations, employers have a duty to consult employees in good time on a range of matters affecting their health and safety at work, including in particular:

Such consultation can be with the employees directly or through elected 'representatives of employee safety'.

When employers consult directly with employees, employers must provided employees with sufficient information to enable the employees to participate fully in discussions. The information provided must take into consideration the employees' level of knowledge. The leaflet 'Consulting employees on health and safety: A guide to the law' explains how, by law, employers must consult with employees on health and safety matters and references further guidance.

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