Any company that is still using non-EU compliant monitors, keyboards, software, lighting or chairs faces criminal prosecution and official complaints from employees. Yet many companies are still thought to be breaking the law.
This year, the breathing space that the UK government bought for companies to introduce EC-compliant equipment expires. Included in the vetoed items are green screens bought after the 1 January, and non-compliant pointing devices such as some mice and joysticks.
On 1 January 1993, the UK government accepted many EU provisions on ergonomics but managed to persuade the Commission in Brussels to delay full implementation until 31 December 1996. The period of grace is now over, but many companies are still thought to be using illegal equipment and furniture.
Any such company faces three possible options if staff complain or if enforcers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) move into the buildings.
A representative from the HSE said: ?Any equipment in use should now comply. We or local authorities will inspect premises and three things can happen. Inspectors can issue improvement or prohibition notices, and, certainly in England and Wales, criminal proceedings can follow. Being served a notice does not preclude you from prosecution or vice versa.?
Bob Raikes, an industry analyst at Meko covering the monitor market, said: ?If you?re a director of a company it?s a real concern. This is a real business issue because any company that buys unaudited equipment faces prosecution. The  directive was on displays, lighting, seating angles and keyboards. The directorate said then that all software had to be easy to use too.?
Raikes said that the HSE constantly tracks whether companies comply. ?Any employer who hasn?t done this stuff yet is wide open,? he said. The legislation will also apply to cases of repetitive strain injury, he said.
The HSE representative confirmed that the law applied to practically every kind of device available in 1992 but excluded certain kinds of screens found in supermarkets and also notebook PCs.
Allan Fright, product marketing manager for monitors at Samsung Electronics UK, said: ?This legislation came into force on the 1 January this year. Most monitor manufacturers knew it was on the horizon and made sure they were fully compliant. All monitors to be supplied by 1 January had to be MPR compliant. Products old and new have to be refurbished.?
The Computing Supplies Federation, with 150 members, is also concerned about the issues. It is promoting a roadshow to tell large corporations the risk they run.
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