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Health & Safety

On-screen marking and working with DSE

Laptop on a pile of papersIt is recognised that there is a considerable cultural shift involved in the move to electronic submission, marking and feedback.  This has also created changes in working practices and in computer use. In order to support academic staff the following practical advice has been supplied and links have also been provided to relevant Health and Safety resources.


In order to help with electronic marking, it may be possible for academic colleagues to request a 19” monitor through Information Library Services (ILS) - call 6696. Additionally, your faculty might be prepared to invest in a range of other hardware to support the move to electronic marking, such as dual monitors, lightweight laptops, tablet devices or e-book readers.

Online Resources

All staff who regularly use computers are recommended to visit  the following website http://www.openerg.com/dse/ which provides detailed online instruction and guidance on:

• Safe set up for your computer/workstation
• An online self-assessment to receive advice on your current set up and usage
• A symptoms page to help you address possible health issues caused or being exacerbated by computer use.

In addition, the following learning package related to effective use of computer equipment is also available to view: DSE Online Learning Package by Swansea College.


Getting comfortable

Adjust your chair and DSE to find the most comfortable position for your work. As a broad guide, your forearms should be approximately horizontal and your eyes the same height as the top of the monitor, and for many individuals this may mean raising their monitor.  Purpose designed stands are available to order from Print Services through their ‘Office Depot’ catalogue.

Make sure you have enough work space to take whatever documents or other equipment you need. Try different arrangements of keyboard, screen, mouse and documents to find the best arrangement for you. A document holder (also available to order from Print Services) may help you avoid awkward neck and eye movements.

Arrange your desk to avoid glare, or bright reflections on the screen. This will be easiest if neither you nor the screen is directly facing windows or bright lights. Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent unwanted light.
Make sure there is space under your desk to move your legs freely. Move any obstacles such as boxes or equipment.

Avoid excess pressure from the edge of your seat on the backs of your legs and knees. A footrest may be helpful, particularly for smaller users.

info Equipment which may help: Monitor stands, foot rests, back rest.

Keying in

Enter keyAdjust your keyboard to get a good keying position. Fine-tune your setup so that your wrists are not working at an angle from your forearms and try keeping the ‘feet’ on your keyboard down to encourage a reduction in this angle.  A space in front of the keyboard is also recommended  for resting the hands and wrists when not keying.

Try to keep your wrists straight when keying. Keep a soft touch on the keys and don't overstretch your fingers. Good keyboard technique is important.


 info Equipment which may help: Keyboard wrist rest, mouse wrist rest, specialised keyboard.

MouseUsing a mouse

Position the mouse within easy reach, so it can also be used with the wrist straight. Sit upright and close to the desk, so you don't have to work with your mouse arm stretched and can also support your forearm on the desk (move the keyboard out of the way if it is not being used).

As with the keyboard rest your fingers lightly on the buttons and do not press them hard or grip the  mouse too tightly. 


 info Equipment which may help: Keyboard wrist rest, mouse wrist rest, specialised mouse.

Girl at PCReading the screen

Make sure the screen surface is clean and adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.

When working from the screen make sure that the text size is  large enough to read easily on your screen, when you are sitting in a normal, comfortable working position. You can instantly alter text screen size by holding the ‘Control’ key and scrolling the centralised mouse wheel. Alternatively, on your keyboard you can use the Ctrl key and the + and - keys to adjust the font size.

All staff who use computers are also entitled to an eye test through their normal optician and a refund of up to £15 is available by claiming through Staff expenses.  It is also possible to claim a contribution towards glasses needed for computer use. (Link to H&S Staff pages here).

 info Equipment which may help: Larger monitor, dual monitor setup, back rest, monitor wipes


alarm clock buttonPosture and breaks

When on line marking you may find yourself sitting at a computer screen more than you have previously been used to, so try not to sit in the same position for long periods and change your posture as often as you can. Some movement is desirable, but avoid repeated stretching to reach things you need (if this happens a lot, rearrange your workstation).

It is also really important to take regular breaks  from the screenwork and desk if you can; frequent short breaks are better than fewer long ones.

 info Equipment which may help: More suitable chair, back rest/support, foot stand. All equipment is available through Print Services. Speak to your line manager about purchasing.

Additional Health Support

After completion of one year’s service, all staff  will automatically benefit from a Leeds Hospital Fund (LHF) Healthplan. This is paid for by the University and allows you to claim back expenses to a certain level on certain medical treatments many of which could help with more comfortable computer use and general wellbeing.  These include:
• Eye care and Optical costs
• Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Osteopathy and Chiropractic.

Details of the LHF allowances will be sent automatically after completion of a year's service.  More information on the  Healthplan  is also available from the HR webpages or through this Staff Benefits document.

 info Information which may be useful: HR email: humanresources@yorksj.ac.uk | HR Phone: 6435 (Charlotte Thomas) | HR Webpages

Information and Training

The university's IT & TEL Trainer offers face-to-face training on effective on-screen marking practice. One-to-one support is also available on request from members of the Technology Enhanced Learning Team.

All staff are strongly recommended to access the Openerg website to complete the set up and self-assessment. Any individuals still suffering from difficulties with their workstation and computer after having completed the self-assessment, should notify their line manager or speak to their local DSE assessor.

Further information on DSE at York St John is also available from the Health & Safety pages of the YSJ website.

None of this information has helped me, I still have issues.

If you feel that you have a personal condition or diagnosis which is either preventing you from or making it very difficult for you to adopt electronic marking and feedback processes, please raise your concerns with  your line manager, who should be able to take things forward.