General Reading 14 - Passage 1
Advice for Employees
Safe computer use
Most people suffer no ill-effects from using VDUs (Visual Display Units) as they don’t give out harmful levels of radiation and rarely cause any kind of skin complaint. If you do suffer ill-effects, it may be because of the way you’re using the computer and this can be avoided by well-designed workstations. When working at a VDU, make sure you keep a good posture and that your eyes are level with the screen.
Under health and safety regulations your employer should look at VDU workstations, and reduce any risks by supplying any equipment considered necessary (e.g. a wrist rest). They should also provide health and safety training. This also applies if you’re working at home as an employee and using a VDU for a long period of time. There is no legal limit to how long you should work at a VDU, but under health and safety regulations you have the right to breaks from work using a VDU. This doesn’t have to be a rest break, just a different type of work. Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests it’s better to take frequent short breaks but if your job means spending long periods at a VDU, for example as in the case of data input, then longer breaks from your workstation should be introduced.
If you’re disabled, your employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments for you may mean that they will provide you with special computer equipment. You can also get advice and maybe help with paying for equipment from the local job centre. Studies haven’t shown a link between VDU use and damage to eyesight, but if you feel that using a VDU screen is making your eyes tired, tell your employee safety representative. You have the right to a free eyesight test if you use a VDU a lot during work hours. If you’re prescribed glasses your company must pay for them, provided they’re required in your job.
If you have any health problems you think may be caused by your VDU, contact your line manager. He/she has a duty to consult you on health and safety issues that affect you, and should welcome early reporting of any issue.