Display screen equipment (DSE)

Aches and pains through prolonged use of DSE are very common and can lead to permanent harm. A few simple adjustments can make you more comfortable and prevent ill health.

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There is no requirement in law for students to complete a DSE assessment. However students should still follow the good practice outlined in the Safe Use of DSE guidance.

Common problems

Through visiting workstations across campus, the Health and Safety Office have found these to be the most common problems suffered by staff and students at Goldsmiths:

Using laptops without risers and other ancillary equipment

Laptops should be provided with a much adjustment and adaptability as a desk top computer.  This includes the use of a laptop riser, separate keyboard and mouse.

Not taking sufficient breaks form DSE work

Sitting in the same position for hours is bound to lead to aches and pains. Taking short (5 – 10 minute) breaks from DSE work will help you to work more efficiently and reduce the risk of harm.

Sitting too low

Unsurprisingly people adjust their seat so that their feet are flat on the floor, but for many people this means their arms are too low for the keyboard, resulting in hunched shoulders and leading to and neck and shoulder pain. Raise your chair so that your lower arm is level with the middle row of keys with a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Keep your wrists straight and don't rest your arms or wrists on the desk while using the keyboard. If you can't rest your feet comfortably on the floor you need a foot rest.​

Discomfort from using the mouse

People often suffer from pain in their right arm, shoulder or hand. This may be because they stretch their arm to reach the mouse or grip the mouse tightly. Place the mouse close to you, so that it can be used with a relaxed arm and straight wrist. It can help to support your arm lightly on the desk surface.

You can also speed up the mouse refresh speed in the control panel menu (mouse – pointer options) of your desktop or laptop to reduce the distance the mouse moves compared to the curser on your screen.
If you still find using the mouse awkward, you could try a different shaped or sized one, or another device such as a trackball. A mini keyboard (i.e. one that doesn't have the number pad on the right hand side) can also be useful, as it will allow you to bring the mouse closer to you.

Headaches and blurred vision

This is often caused by prolonged use of the computer. Glare on the screen, bright areas (e.g. windows) in the field of view or a dirty or unclear screen can also lead to eye strain. So take micro-breaks from looking at the monitor every 5 minutes to help reduce eye strain, use blinds to shield windows and keep your screen clear.


If you are pregnant you will need to review your workstation to incorporate the need for more posture related issues.  Read more in our guide DSE and Pregnancy (PDF)

Further information