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Guidelines For The Operation Of VDUs

Much research has been carried out on the question of Visual Display Units and the work environment. From recent authoritative research that has been carried out, it has been concluded that given a adherence to certain ergonomic factors there would appear to be no negative health effect on staff who continually or intermittently operate VDU's. However, given the Universities policy of safeguarding the health and safety of all its employees and providing a safe working environment and given that the research to date may not be totally conclusive and final, the following guidelines should apply. This guideline should be operated and adopted at local level to best suit the special requirements of each School/Unit in consultation with staff.


Training And Development
The University should ensure that developments take place with due emphasis being given to prior discussions between Heads and staff and further ensure that adequate attention is paid to training and development. Given that the University has the responsibility for ensuring that adequate training and development procedures are effective, Heads should ensure that staff are involved in developments relating to their School and should also ensure sufficient emphasis is placed on training so that staff can competently cope with the development.


The University, has the responsibility for maintaining a safe working environment and inco-operation with staff, should ensure that the physical working environment is such as toobtain effective working in an acceptable and safe environment. The following guidelines should, in general, be observed:


i) Equipment (character dimensions, character generation, refresh rate, contrast, colours,keyboard design etc).
Full regard should be had to the manufacturer's operating instructions;the operator should ensure that the machines are kept in a good state of repair and cleanliness; in general the display should present an image to the operator that is both clear and stable; corrective action should be taken immediately if any faults or problems arise. Due regard should also be had by both the University and the operator of the machine specifications.


ii) Working Environment (lighting, glare, noise, heat etc).
The illumination provided should be adequate but not excessive, due regard being had to the manufacturer's guidelines in this respect; the possibility of glare and reflection should be avoided e.g. by positioning the operator in front of an uncluttered surface and away from windows with the VDU screens at right angles to the incoming light; care should be taken to avoid the area be coming excessively hot from heat generated by the VDU terminal; attention should be paid to minimising excessive noise arising from ancillary equipment and other sources. Although believed to be totally insignificant, where requested the level of radiation can be assessed and monitored.


iii) Design of Workplace.
The workplace should be designed to take due account of the individual; the equipment should give the operator sufficient room to spread materials neededfor the work in progress and to adopt a comfortable posture in the relevant work activities; if at all possible the seating should be adjustable to suit the individual operator, the more components of the workplace that can be adjusted by the individual operators to suit themselves the better.


All equipment should be kept in good working order with the brightness/contrast of the screen being adjusted to the level which best suits the environment and the operator. Any maladjustment, flickering etc. should be reported by the operator to Head of School/Unit so that maintenance can take place.


Eye Tests
All permanent staff members undergo a full medical test on recruitment. Where it is likely that a staff member will be involved in continuous operation of VDU's a full eye test should be given prior to employment. Staff currently operating VDU's on a continuous basis will be given the option of having a full eye test at two yearly intervals. These eye tests will be carried out by a University nominated specialist and the cost of the test will be borne by the University.


Breaks From Continuous viewing
In most tasks, natural breaks or pauses occur as a consequence of the inherent organisation of the work. These informal breaks help to maintain performance by preventing the onset of fatigue. The University should ensure as far as is practicable, that jobs are designed to permit natural breaks or changes in the pattern of activity, as an integral part of the tasks to be performed. Conscious of the need for variety in work duties, it is recommended that staff engaged in the continuous operation of VDU's should have breaks away from the screen at other work for a maximum of a half an hour in every 3 hours. The operation of this guideline should be adopted at local level to best suit the special requirements of each School/Unit in consultation with staff.


Special Safeguards
The following special safeguards should be noted:

 - Pregnant women should have the option of not operating VDUs.

- Staff suffering from photo sensitive epilepsy should seek medical advice before working on VDU's.

- Staff continually operating VDU's should be advised that certain drugs such as Valium and Librium affect the speed of eye movement and could lead to eye fatigue.

Given that much research has been carried out and more will be carried out in the future a review of this guideline should take place at the latest 2 years from now.

Last Revision01-SEP-10