Advicero Nexia
Home / Blog / New health and safety requirements for workplaces equipped with screen monitors

New health and safety requirements for workplaces equipped with screen monitors

On 17th of November, 2023, the Ordinance of the Minister of Family and Social Policy dated October 18, 2023, amending the ordinance on occupational health and safety at workplaces equipped with screen monitors came into force (item 2367). Employers who created a new position on or after 17th of November must immediately apply the new health, safety and ergonomics rules. Others have six months to comply with the new requirements – until May 17, 2024.

The amended Ordinance modifies the definition of a workstation. After the changes, a workstation should be understood as a workspace including:

  • elementary equipment, including a screen monitor, keyboard, mouse or other input devices, software with a user interface,
  • a chair and a table,
  • optional additional equipment, including a disk station, printer, scanner, document holder, footrest.

Obligations of the employer after the amendment of the Ordinance

The biggest changes, however, will affect those employees who use a portable computer system for half of their daily working hours. According to point 1.2 of the appendix to the Ordinance, when using portable systems intended for use at a given workstation for at least half of the daily working hours, the workstation should be equipped with:

  • a stationary screen monitor or
  • a stand ensuring that the screen is positioned so that its upper edge is at the height of the employee’s eyes,
  • an additional keyboard and mouse.

The regulations give employers two options. Either provide employees who work more than half of their work day with a laptop computer with a desktop screen monitor, or equip them with a suitable stand to ensure that the screen is properly positioned at the employee’s eye level. A separate keyboard and mouse have become mandatory equipment. In addition, at the employee’s request, the employer should equip the employee with a suitable document holder (if there is a need to use documents at work) and a footrest.

The new Ordinance describes in less detail the minimum requirements for health, safety and ergonomics of workstations. Among the important issues, for example, the removal of the requirement for the distance of an employee’s eyes from the monitor screen or the distance between adjacent monitors and the employee. The employee should have enough space to have free access and sufficient space to work. Adjustments to the positioning of the monitor should allow the screen to be tilted, and the computer work chair should allow the seat and back to be adjusted – so specifying the range of tilt and its adjustment has been dropped.

What about remote work?

The new rules will also affect employees who work remotely. However, this issue may raise questions for both employers and employees. This is because, according to the provisions of the Labor Code on remote work, the employer should provide the employee performing remote work with the materials and work tools, including technical devices, necessary for the performance of remote work, however, in the same chapter, the Labor Code indicates that the exemption for remote work is subject to, among other things. the duty of the person in charge of employees to organize the workplace in accordance with the regulations and principles of occupational safety and health, and to take care of the safe and hygienic condition of the work premises and technical equipment, as well as the efficiency of collective protection measures and their use in accordance with their purpose, as defined in Article 212(1) and (4) of the Labor Code. The effect of this exclusion is that it is to the employee performing remote work that the duty to organize his own workstation at the remote work site has been transferred.

Another issue for employers to analyse is the impact of the changes on the information provided to employees about the risks and conditions of performing remote work, and thus whether they require updating the employees’ statements of familiarization with the risk assessment and information containing health and safety rules for remote work.

Reimbursement of contact lenses

Changes have also been made to the reimbursement of corrective glasses – after the changes, the employer provides the employee with contact lenses in addition to corrective glasses. In practice, however, the change in the rules is not so noticeable, as authorities previously accepted the expense of contact lenses for employees on the basis of Article 9 (3) of the Council Directive of May 29, 1990 on minimum safety and health requirements for work with equipment equipped with screen monitors.

The new rules will undoubtedly cause both increased costs and doubts about their interpretation on the part of employers. In favour of employers, however, is the fact that the details of meeting the requirements indicated by the regulations have been left to their discretion. Companies wishing to minimize costs are far more likely to purchase stands rather than monitors themselves. From the employee’s perspective, he will receive additional equipment, such as a keyboard and mouse, if he didn’t have one before or was using his own equipment, and at his request he can expand his accessories to include a document holder or even a footrest. Newly hired employees will benefit from the changes sooner than employees hired before November 17, who will have to wait until as late as spring 2024 for the new equipment.