23 May 2024

New Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) and Ergonomics Regulations for Workplaces Equipped with Screen Monitors

By 17 May 2024, employers must adapt workstations that existed before 17 November 2023 to the new OHS and ergonomics requirements resulting from the amended provisions of the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 1 December 1998 on Occupational Health & Safety at Workplaces Equipped with Display Screen Monitors.

The creation of a new workstation as of 17 November 2023 means that the employer must apply the amended legislation from the outset.

Revised definition of workstation

The amended regulation modifies the definition of a workstation, bringing it into line with current technological realities by removing elements such as a floppy disk drive or a trackball.

A workstation is now defined as a place where work is carried out and which contains:

  • Basic equipment, including a monitor, keyboard, mouse or other input devices, software with a user interface;
  • Chair and table;
  • Optional accessories, including a disk drive, printer, scanner, document holder, footrest.

When will the Regulation not apply

As a result of the amendment, the provisions of the Regulation do not apply to portable systems (such as laptops) that are not intended to be used at a workstation for at least half of the daily working time. The application of the Regulation is therefore excluded in cases of short-term use of portable systems.  

Mandatory workplace elements

Where portable systems (such as a laptop) are used at a workstation for at least half of the daily working time, the workstation should be equipped with:

  • A fixed monitor or stand that ensures that the top edge of the screen is at the user's eye level; and
  • An additional keyboard and mouse.

It is important that the keyboard and mouse are separate items workstation basic equipment. The keyboard built into the laptop is therefore not sufficient - the employer must provide the worker with an additional keyboard.

Minimum OHS and ergonomic requirements

The design of the keyboard should allow the user to adopt a position that does not cause muscular fatigue of the upper limbs during work - this requirement remains unchanged. However, the amended regulation does not specify the height of the keyboard or the ability to adjust the the angle of the keyboard.

Adjustments to the position of the monitor should still allow the screen to be tilted. However, there is no longer a requirement to precisely define the tilt and swivel range of the monitor, nor is there a requirement for the monitor screen to have an anti-reflection coating or filter. Instead, there is a general requirement that the positioning of the monitor and other equipment should not force awkward movements of the head and neck. The regulation also simplifies the requirements for the height of the table, chair seat or footrest.

Where it is necessary to use documents at work, the employer must, at the employee's request, provide the workstation with a document holder that is adjustable in height, inclination and distance from the employee. At the employee's request, the workstation must also be provided with a footrest.

According to the new regulation, lighting at individual workstations should be adapted to the type of work being performed.

Equipment of remote workstations

The amended regulation does not explicitly state whether the obligation to equip the workstation with elements such as a monitor or stand, keyboard and mouse also applies to the workstations of employees who work remotely at a location agreed with the employer. In a situation where these items are essential working tools, the employer must provide them to the remote worker. However, the employer and the employee may agree on the rules for the employee's use of working tools (including monitor, stand, keyboard or mouse) that are not provided by the employer but belong to the employee.

Measures to be taken by employers in relation to the changes

The changes to the Regulation means that employers will need to take the following measures:

  • Review workstations and assess their compliance with new OHS and ergonomic requirements;
  • Adapt workstations that do not meet the new requirements;
  • Review the information provided to employees working remotely, which includes the rules and methods for the proper organisation of the remote workstation, taking into account ergonomic requirements and the principles of safe and hygienic performance of remote work, and modify this information;
  • Provide modified information to employees working remotely, as well as collecting again declarations from employees working remotely that they have read the information containing the principles of safe and hygienic performance of remote work and declarations confirming that safe and hygienic conditions for such work are provided at the remote workstation in the place indicated by the employee and agreed with the employer - although the legislation does not explicitly impose such an obligation on employers, the use of such a solution is recommended in order to ensure full compliance of the equipment at the remote workstation with the new requirements;
  • Review remote working rules or agreements and, if necessary, establish rules for the use by employees of work equipment (such as a monitor or stand, mouse and keyboard) that is not provided by the employer but belongs to the employee, and set a relevant allowance or flat rate.

Nina Bronisz