Display screen risk (VDT): rights and obligations of workers


Legislative Decree 81/2008 defines the video terminal as “an alphanumeric or graphic screen regardless of the type of display process used”

Display screens (VDTs) are now an essential element in almost all workplaces. The video terminal, in fact, has become today the fundamental work tool both in offices and in production environments where it is used with control functions (command stations, organization control, etc.):

Work at display screens poses a risk to exposed workers. The risks associated with VDT, in fact, depend on its components (screen, keyboard, mouse, other peripherals), the workstation (desk and seat) and the surrounding environment (ambient light, microclimate, work and movement spaces, sound environment, etc.).

According to Legislative Decree 81/2008, the Employer is obliged to assess the risk from video terminals in the workplace and to develop and apply a program of technical or organizational measures aimed at minimizing exposure and the consequent risks.

What are the health effects of workers exposed to VDT?

The prolonged use of the video terminal can represent a risk for exposed workers: in fact, the use of a video terminal, which by law takes the form of a time of at least 20 hours per week, generally involves the maintenance of a static posture (often sitting) and the need to focus the gaze on a screen, for almost the entire period of work.
The effects of prolonged use of display screens may cause:

  • Visual disturbances: related to the brightness and contrast characteristics of the screen and the surrounding environment;
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: related to the posture assumed during the period of work;
  • Mental fatigue: related to the need to maintain concentration on a task for long periods.

Among the visual disturbances it is possible to incur asthenopia, more commonly known as visual fatigue, caused by the excessive effort of the eye muscles required by the action of fixing the same point for a long time. It may cause the following symptoms:

  • Burning eyes;
  • Frequent blinking;
  • Lachrymation;
  • Discomfort in the light;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Reading fatigue;
  • Migraine.

The most frequent pathologies affecting the musculoskeletal system, on the other hand, are:

  • Inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder;
  • Lateral epicondylitis: commonly called “tennis elbow”;
  • Tendinitis of wrist and hand;
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Finally, the prolonged use of video terminals and a poor organization of work, can determine the appearance of mental fatigue that involves:

  • Fatigue;
  • Stressful situations;
  • Neurotic or psychotic expressions, such as anxiety and depression.


What are the technical requirements of the VDT and the workstation?

In order to reduce the risks associated with the use of display screens, it is essential that the workstation and the surrounding environment have ergonomic characteristics, i.e. that they are designed so that the work equipment is adapted to the needs of the worker.

Therefore, the technical parameters of ergonomics for all workstation components must be respected:

  • Screen;
  • Keyboard;
  • Mouse;
  • Chair;
  • Work table;
  • Use of laptops;
  • Lighting;
  • Microclimate;
  • Work and movement spaces;
  • Sound environment.

For further information on the ergonomic parameters to be respected, you can consult the Inail guideline on video terminal risk at the following link.

It follows, therefore, that the risk assessment of video terminals must be conducted by specialized technicians in a thorough and timely manner considering all the related risk factors.


Display screen risk: what does Legislative Decree 81/2008 establish and what are the obligations of the Employer?

Legislative Decree 81/2008 defines:

  1. Display screen: “an alphanumeric or graphic screen irrespective of the type of display used”;
  2. Workstation: “the assembly comprising display screen equipment, possibly with a keyboard or other data-entry system, including mouse, human-machine interface software, optional accessories, connected equipment, including the disc unit, telephone, modem, printer, document holder, chair, work surface and the immediate working environment”;
  3. Worker: “a worker who uses display screen equipment, systematically or habitually, for twenty hours a week”.

Art. Article 174 establishes that the Employer is obliged to assess the risk of display screens, with particular regard to:

  • Risks to vision;
  • Problems related to posture and physical or mental fatigue;
  • Ergonomic conditions and environmental hygiene.

Based on the risks identified through the assessment, the Employer must take appropriate measures so that the risk can be eliminated or, if this is not possible, minimized.

The Employer is obliged to inform and adequately train the worker in particular on:

  • Prevention measures;
  • How to carry out the activity:
  • Eye and vision protection.


Worker exposed to VDT risk: what are their rights and obligations?

The worker who uses video terminals has the right, pursuant to art. 175 of Legislative Decree 81/2008, to an interruption of its activity through breaks, preferably practicing work activities that allow you to rest your eyes and move your body.

Those who carry out an activity at the video terminal for at least 20 hours per week, have the right to a break of 15 minutes every 2 hours, except in special cases where the Competent Doctor establishes a different frequency.

Finally, art. 176 of Legislative Decree 81/2008 establishes that the worker has the obligation to undergo Health Surveillance, necessary to obtain through the judgment of the Competent Doctor the suitability to carry out their work.

It is carried out with particular reference to:

  • Risks to vision and eyes;
  • Risks to the musculoskeletal system.

The frequency of check-ups, except in special cases that require a different frequency established by the competent doctor, is:

  • Biennial: for workers who have reached the fiftieth year of age;
  • Five-yearly: for all other cases.


Display screen risk assessment with Safetyone

Safetyone Ingegneria Srl carries out the video terminal risk assessment pursuant to Legislative Decree 81/2008, guaranteeing quality and effectiveness and providing qualified technicians.