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Codes for a Graphic Designer
• So far we have seen how Graphic Design is closely related to the environment and looked
at the aspects of graphic design that can help a designer “go green” such as minimal
design, the quantity and quality of paper, inks, aspects of distribution, recycle etc. In this
lecture, we will see what are the established legislation, codes and standards that impact
workplace safety and relevant practices.
• Let’s begin with understanding the ethical codes for a graphic designer and then move on to
those which impact workplace safety and related practices.
• A professional designer must adhere to principles that demonstrate respect for profession,
colleagues, clients, consumers, and for society as a whole. The designer must also fulfill
his/her responsibility to society and the environment.
• Official codes for graphic designers are defined as those provided by professional
associations. They cover ethical issues relating to multiple areas, however the focus of this
lecture is on graphic designer’s responsibility towards society and the environment.
AIGA Codes for a Graphic Designer
• With regards to the society and the environment, AIGA, the professional association for
design states the following:
• A professional designer shall take a responsible role in the visual portrayal of people, the
consumption of natural resources, and the protection of animals and the environment.
• A professional designer shall consider environmental, economic, social and cultural implications
of his or her work and minimize the adverse impacts.
• A professional designer shall not knowingly make use of goods or services offered by
manufacturers, suppliers or contractors that are accompanied by an obligation that is
substantively detrimental to the best interests of his or her client, society or the environment.
• A professional designer, while engaged in the practice or instruction of design, shall not
knowingly do or fail to do anything that constitutes a deliberate or reckless disregard for the
health and safety of the communities in which he or she lives and practices or the privacy of
the individuals and businesses therein.
SEGD Codes for a Graphic Designer
• The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) is a global multi-disciplinary
community of professionals. According to SEGD, the Designer’s Responsibility to the
Public and Environment is as follows:
• A designer shall consider environmental, economic, social, and cultural implications of his or her
work and shall act in the best interests of the public whenever possible.
• A designer shall not accept work that infringes upon human rights or involves the promotion of
discrimination or exploitation of any person or group of persons on the basis of race, gender,
age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
• A designer is encouraged to adopt a practice of continual education regarding sustainable
product innovations of the industry and to specify the most environmentally sustainable
products whenever possible.
• A designer shall not knowingly do anything that constitutes a deliberate or reckless disregard
for the health and safety of the public and environment.
AGDA Codes for a Graphic Designer
• The Australian Graphic Design Association’s (AGDA) code of ethics for designers is
based on the Model Code of Professional Conduct for Designers published in 1987 by
ICOGRADA (International Council of Graphic Design Associations), ICSID (International
Council of Societies of Industrial Design) and IFI (International Federation of Interior
Architects/Interior Designers). AGDA provides a Code of Practice for designers for
health and safety. With regards to a member’s responsibility to the community it states:
• A Member shall work in a manner so that as little harm (direct or indirect) as possible is caused
to the natural environment.
Workplace Health and Safety
• Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) also called as Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), is
a multidisciplinary field that deals with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work. The
goals of WHS programs are to foster a safe and healthy work environment. It may also
protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, contractors, visitors, suppliers
and others who might be affected by the workplace environment. It has a strong focus on
primary prevention of hazards and is concerned with preventing harm from any incidental
hazards, arising in the workplace.
• Before 2012, workplace health and safety (WHS) laws were known as Occupational Health
and Safety (OH&S) laws. These laws differed across Australian states and territories. To make
the laws more consistent across Australia, in 2012 the state and territory governments agreed
to develop model laws (WHS Act and Regulations), on which they could base their health
and safety laws.
• ‘Health’ includes psychological health as well as physical health.
shows clearly the size
of the problem of
History of OHS/WHS
• A Short History of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
• These OHS/WHS laws and regulations have been developed for good reasons. Less
than 100 years ago, we enjoyed few of the protections we have today. Looking at the
history of occupational health and safety is one of the best ways to understand why
these laws exist and the benefit they offer, even if they’re not always easy or
convenient to comply with.
• Visit this link to know the history of WHS, read the case studies and watch the very
Safe Work Australia
• Safe Work Australia (SWA) is an Australian government statutory body established in
2008 to develop national policy relating to WHS and workers’ compensation. It works in
partnership with governments, employers and employees to drive national policy
development on WHS and workers’ compensation matters. Safe Work Australia leads
the development of national policy to improve work health and safety and workers’
compensation arrangements across Australia.
• Visit Safe Work Australia for more information on workplace health and safety.
Acts, Regulations, Codes of Practice
• Acts give a general overview of how to make workplaces safe and
healthy. They outline the legal responsibilities and duties of an employer
and business owner.
• Regulations set out the standards necessary to meet for specific
hazards and risks. They also set out the licenses needed for specific
activities, the records needed to keep, and the reports to make.
• Regulating agencies (also known as regulators) administer health and
safety laws. They’re responsible for inspecting workplaces, providing
advice and help, and handing out notices and penalties where
Acts, Regulations, Codes of Practice
• Codes of Practice provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards
set out in the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations. Codes of Practice are
admissible in proceedings as evidence of whether or not a duty under the
WHS laws has been met. They can also be referred to by an inspector when
issuing an improvement or prohibition notice. It is recognised that equivalent or
better ways of achieving the required work health and safety outcomes may
be possible. Therefore compliance with Codes of Practice is not mandatory if
any other method used provides an equivalent or higher standard of work
health and safety than suggested by the Code of Practice.
• Interpretive guidelines are a formal statement on how WHS regulators believe
key concepts in the WHS Act operate and in doing so provide an indication of
how the laws will be enforced.
Work Health and Safety Act
• The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act provides a framework to protect the health, safety
and welfare of all workers at work. It also protects the health and safety of all other people
who might be affected by the work including employees, contractors, subcontractors,
outworkers, apprentices and trainees, work experience students, volunteers, employers who
perform work. The WHS Act also provides protection for the general public so that their
health and safety is not placed at risk by work activities. It sets out the requirements for
incident notification, consultation with workers, issue resolution, inspector powers and
functions, offences and penalties. The main aim of the Act is to provide for a balanced and
nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces.
Work Health and Safety Act
The WHS Act aims to:
• protect the health and safety of workers and other people by eliminating or minimising risks arising from
work or workplaces
• ensure fair and effective representation, consultation and cooperation to address and resolve health
and safety issues in the workplace
• encourage unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in improving work health and
• assisting businesses and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment
• promote information, education and training on work health and safety
• provide effective compliance and enforcement measures, and
• deliver continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety.
Work Health and Safety Regulations
• The Regulations are about a wide range of matters relating to work health and safety,
including managing risks to health and safety and general workplace management,
hazardous work involving noise, hazardous manual tasks, confined spaces, falls,
demolition work, electrical safety and energised electrical work, diving work and
licensing of high risk work etc. It prescribes requirements for workplace entry by work
health and safety (WHS) permit holders, and sets out the rights and duties of workers’
unions in the process.
Work Health and Safety Codes of
• Compliance codes and Codes of practice provide practical guidance to those who
have duties or obligations under occupational health and safety, dangerous goods
and workers compensation legislation. They are categorized into various types
including compliance code for confined places, first-aid at workplace, workplace
amenities and environment, compliance codes for foundries, hazardous substances,
prevention of falls etc. These are available at the following link:
WHS in Australia at a glance
For any business, small or big it is a legal requirement to ensure that the workplace meets
the WHS obligations. Under Australian WHS/OH&S legislation businesses are legally
• provide safe work premises
• assess risks and implement appropriate measures for controlling them
• ensure safe use and handling of goods and substances
• provide and maintain safe machinery and materials
• assess workplace layout and provide safe systems of work
• provide a suitable working environment and facilities
• have insurance and workers compensation insurance for employees
WHS in Australia at a glance
People working in a business too have work health and safety obligations to themselves
and also their workmates. They must:
• comply with instructions given for work health and safety
• use any provided personal protective equipment (PPE)
• be properly trained in how to use it
• not wilfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided for work health and
safety at the workplace
• not wilfully place others at risk
• not wilfully injure themselves
Benefits of WHS
Creating a safe work environment is critical to the success of the business. It can:
• help the businesses to create safer work environments
• provide measurable systems that can verify OHS performance
• demonstrate that the organisation is meeting legal requirements
• enhance the organisation's reputation
• improve business opportunities – many companies have preferential purchasing
policies that favour purchasing products or services from companies with an OHSMS
• maximise employee productivity and retain staff
• reduce the costs of injury and workers’ compensation
WHS in Graphic Design
• The nature of graphic design practice is varied. For designers, their workplace is the studio. It
could be an “office” which is a purpose built facility, rented space, an extension to their
home or even a table space in their own bedroom. Designers also use a very wide-ranging
mix of equipments, devices, objects and materials in their day-to day work. They also
undertake a wide range of physical activities and processes in producing work. Devices,
equipments, materials used and production activities can be detrimental to the health and
safety, quality of life and career of the designer. Designers have a duty under health and
safety law to ensure that their working environment complies with health and safety
legislation. Besides, it is in their interest to protect their own health and safety as well as
ensuring that studios and work environments are safe for visitors, family or clients.
WHS in Graphic Design
• The most common Health and Safety issues in Graphic Design practice are related to
the use of computers, printers, workstations, lighting electricity and psychological issues
such as fatigue, stress or bullying. They can be caused by repetitive and over-use of
fingers, hands and wrists, or due to eye-strain, awkward seating position or external
factors such as lack of light, poor ventilation, slippery floor, falling, tripping over electric
cords, lifting heavy items like paper and board or exposure to inks, solvents etc. Most of
these are also associated to a self-employed graphic designer as well as design
studios. Therefore, it is essential to understand them clearly as an individual designer
and/or a owner of a design studio. Before we get into the details of this, let us
understand a few terms.
Hazard means a situation or thing that has
the potential to harm a person. Hazards at
work may include: noisy machinery, a moving
forklift, chemicals, electricity, working at
heights, a repetitive job, bullying and
violence at the workplace.
Hazards at Workplace
Although work provides many economic and other benefits, a wide array of workplace
hazards also present risks to the health and safety of people at work.
• Physical hazards affect many people in the workplace. Falls are also a common cause
of occupational injuries and fatalities, especially in construction, extraction,
transportation, healthcare, and building cleaning and maintenance.
• Biological hazards (biohazards) include infectious microorganisms such as viruses and
toxins produced by those organisms such as anthrax. Biohazards affect workers in many
industries; influenza, for example, affects a broad population of workers.
• Dangerous chemicals can pose a chemical hazard in the workplace.
• Psychosocial hazards include risks to the mental and emotional well-being of workers,
such as feelings of job insecurity, long work hours, and poor work-life balance
Risk is the possibility that harm (death, injury or
illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard.
Risk control means taking action to eliminate health and
safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and if that is
not possible, minimising the risks.
Eliminating a hazard will also eliminate any risks
associated with that hazard.
In this section, we will look at the hazards and risks involved in graphic design practice. We will first
understand what is the hazard, what are the causes and risks associated with it and then discuss
some ways to avoid or overcome them.
Working with Computers/Devices
• DSE are devices or equipment that have an alphanumeric or graphic display screen
and includes display screens, laptops, touch screens and other similar devices. The
designers should protect themselves from any risks associated with Display Screen
Equipment (DSE) of the computers and laptops. They may experience fatigue, eye
strain, upper limb problems and backache from overuse or improper use of DSE. These
problems can also be experienced from poorly designed workstations or work
environments. The causes may not always be obvious and can be due to a
combination of factors.
Working with Computers/Devices
• Breaking up long spells of DSE work helps prevent fatigue, eye strain, upper limb
problems and backache. The designer needs to plan and interrupt prolonged use of
DSE with changes of activity. Organised or scheduled rest breaks may sometimes be a
• The following may also be useful:
• Stretch and change position.
• Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
• Change activity before users get tired, rather than to recover.
• Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones.
• Timing and length of changes in activity or breaks vary depending on a particular situation.
Working with Computers
• Working with computers is another important aspect for graphic designers whether it
be at home or in a studio but it may cause hazards such as poor posture, excessive
duration in a seated position, incorrect setup of workstation, repetitive movements,
glare which may lead to physical injury to the wrists, arms, neck, shoulder or back, eye
strain etc. One can avoid these hazards and harm is by doing the following:
• Keyboards and keying in (typing)
• A space in front of the keyboard can help rest your hands and wrists when not keying.
• Try to keep wrists straight when keying.
• Good keyboard technique is important and it can be done by keeping a soft touch on the keys
and not overstretching the fingers.
Working with Computers
• Using a mouse
• Position the mouse within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.
• Sit upright and close to the desk to reduce working with the mouse arm stretched.
• Move the keyboard out of the way if it is not being used.
• Support the forearm on the desk and don’t grip the mouse too tightly.
• Rest fingers lightly on the buttons and do not press them hard.
• Reading the screen
• Make sure individual characters on the screen are sharp, in focus and don’t flicker or move.
• Adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
• Make sure the screen surface is clean.
• When setting up software, choose text that is large enough to read easily on screen when sitting in a
normal comfortable working position.
• Select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on a blue background, or vice versa).
Working with Computers
• Portable computers
• Whenever possible, use a docking station or firm surface and a full-sized keyboard and mouse.
• The height and position of the portable’s screen should be angled so that the user is sitting
comfortably and reflection is minimised.
• Workstations should be designed so that workers can carry out their work in a comfort able, upright
position with shoulders relaxed and upper arms close to the body.
• Forearms should be approximately horizontal and the user’s eyes should be the same height as the
top of the screen.
• Make sure there is enough work space to accommodate all documents or other equipment.
• Arrange the desk and screen to avoid glare or bright reflections.
• Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent intrusive light.
• Make sure there is space under the desk to move legs.
• Avoid excess pressure from the edge of seats on the backs of legs and knees.
Working with other equipments
• Working with other equipment such as photocopiers, printers, fax, electronic devices
can cause serious hazards like electric shocks. Therefore it is essential to keep these
equipment are located in well ventilated area, are serviced regularly and maintained
well. According to the ergonomics at workplace, the location of switches and buttons
switches that could be accidentally knocked on or off might start the wrong sequence
of events that could lead to an accident too. Ensure the areas is kept clean and tidy
and that cables are kept clear of walkways.
• Lighting also contributes to the health and safety. Poor lighting can affect the health of
people at work causing symptoms like eyestrain, migraine and headaches leading to
lethargy, irritability and poor concentration. Thus it is necessary to ensure lighting is
suitable and sufficient. If possible have a local lighting, clean lamps and luminaires,
remove obstructions, rearrange work to avoid looking towards windows/ roof lights. If
there are strong shadows, change the light placement.
Storage and Filing
• In the practice of graphic design, one would need some facility to file and store
materials such as paper samples, printed work samples, perhaps records and contracts
too. These may lead to hazards like overloading shelves, storing heavy items at high
levels or reaching overhead. In order to avoid these hazards, large or heavy items
should be stored at waist level. Frequently handled items should be placed within easy
reach. Smaller, lightweight and infrequently handled items may be stored in the lower
or higher areas of a storage system. One should always use a step stool or ladder to
reach items from higher shelves.
Stress and bullying
• Work could be stressful at times. Stress can be both good and bad. It often gives motivation
to meet our daily challenges. Stress can have negative effects for health and well being
when high demands and expectations continue for long periods that exceed one’s abilities,
skills and coping strategies. Having the correct tools and equipment to perform a job,
ensuring early resolution of conflicts and establishing suitable work/life balance can help
reduce the stress.
• Graphic design practice involves a number of people – the client, designer, supplier, printers
etc. Working with different people and personalities may cause bullying. It is defined as the
repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another. It includes behaviour that could
be expected to intimidate, offend, degrade, humiliate undermine or threaten. Bullying
constitutes significant risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals and can lead to
serious psychological injury and other illness. It should be managed creating a supportive
workplace culture, establishing clear roles and responsibilities and improving consultation
Ways of avoiding…
• Motion-related injuries
• To prevent motion-related injuries, select appropriate tools and use neutral postures (for
example, a straight wrist) while performing tasks. Take frequent rest breaks to stretch
muscles. Use as light a grip as possible when holding tools.
• Back injuries can occur from lifting heavy objects. Get help if the object weighs more than
50 pounds. Proper lifting uses the muscles of your legs, while keeping your back straight and
holding the load close to your body. Never lift and twist your waist at the same time.
• Use dust masks to keep from breathing nuisance dust, such as wood or clay dust or dust
from general cleaning. Protecting yourself from breathing toxic particles, gases and vapours
requires a respirator. Use safety glasses when handling any dyes, solvents or chemicals, using
spray booths to spray paint or to clean screens, spraying paint outdoors, or working with
epoxies, resins or other finishes.
Cuts from X-Acto and utility knives are the most common injuries.
• Keep your hands out of the cut line, and back from the edge of any guides you may be using.
• Always store and transport knives with blades retracted, or protective caps in place.
• Dull, chipped, or broken blades require more force to perform the cutting operation. Change them regularly.
• Dispose of old blades by placing them in a designated sharps container. Never throw them into the trash.
• Never leave tools on the top of a ladder. These items will fall when the ladder is moved and could cause injury.
Lighting and electrical cords
• Do not use electrical cords if they are worn, or if the inner wires are exposed.
• Arrange cords to avoid creating a trip hazard.
• Unplug cords by grasping the plug and pulling; do not pull them out by the cord.
• Allow light bulbs to cool before replacing them.
• Wrap broken bulbs in paper before disposing of them in the trash.
Health and Safety in the Studio
• Here is a very interesting read By Niamh Looney
• Niamh Looney is Information and Research Officer with Visual Artists Ireland. In 2006, she
successfully completed Managing Safely, a course validated by the Institution of
Occupational Safety and Health
Managing WHS Risks
• Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who
operate and manage the business. A safe and healthy workplace does not happen by
chance or guesswork. It is a systematic process of inquiry. This process is known as risk
management. Risk management is a proactive process that helps you respond to change
and facilitate continuous improvement in your business. It should be planned, systematic
and cover all reasonably foreseeable hazards and associated risks.
• Risk Management involves the four steps:
1. identify hazards – find out what could cause harm
2. assess risks – understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious
the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening
3. control risks – implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the
4. review control measures to ensure they are working as planned
The risk management process
1. Identifying Hazards
• Identifying hazards in the workplace involves finding things and situations that could potentially cause
harm to people. Hazards generally arise from the following aspects of work and their interaction:
• physical work environment
• equipment, materials and substances used
• work tasks and how they are performed
• work design and management
• For example – the most common type of hazard at a printing press are slips, trips and falls, in particular
on wet floors or cluttered passages or when carrying loads. Some tips to help identify the hazards are:
• Inspect the workplace
• Check manufacturers’ instructions
• Look back at the accident and ill-health records
• Consult the workers/employees
2. Access Risks
• A risk assessment involves considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a
hazard and the likelihood of it happening. A risk assessment can help you determine:
• how severe a risk is
• whether any existing control measures are effective
• what action you should take to control the risk
• how urgently the action needs to be taken
• A risk assessment should be done when:
• there is uncertainty about how a hazard may result in injury or illness
• the work activity involves a number of different hazards and there is a lack of understanding
about how the hazards may interact with each other to produce new or greater risks
• changes at the workplace occur that may impact on the effectiveness of control measures.
2. Access Risks
• Having identified the hazards, you then have to decide how likely it is that harm will
occur, ie the level of risk and what to do about it. Risk assessment should only include
what you could reasonably be expected to know – you are not expected to
anticipate unforeseeable risks.
• Work out how severe the harm could be?
• What type of harm could occur?
• How severe is the harm?
• Could the hazard cause death, serious injuries, illness or only minor injuries requiring first aid?
• What factors could influence the severity of harm that occurs?
• How many people are exposed to the hazard?
• How many could be harmed in and outside the workplace?
• Could a small event escalate to a much larger event with more serious consequences?
3. Control Risks
• The most important step in managing risks involves eliminating them so far as is reasonably practicable,
or if that is not possible, minimising the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. There are many ways to
control risks. Some control measures are more effective than others. You must consider various control
options and choose the control that most effectively eliminates the hazard or minimises the risk in the
circumstances. This may involve a single control measure or a combination of different controls.
• The most effective control measure involves eliminating the hazard and associated risk. The best way to
do this is by, firstly, not introducing the hazard into the workplace. For example, eliminate the risk of a fall
from height by doing the work at ground level.
• If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the hazards and associated risks, you should minimise the
risks by substituting the hazard with something safer. For instance, replace solvent-based paints with
water-based ones. Another way to do so is by using personal protective equipment (PPE). Examples of
PPE include ear muffs, respirators, face masks, hard hats, gloves, aprons and protective eyewear.
4. Review Control Measures
• The control measures put in place should be reviewed regularly to make sure they work
as planned. Don’t wait until something goes wrong. There are certain situations where
you must review your control measures under the WHS Regulations and, if necessary,
revise them. A review is required:
• when the control measure is not effective in controlling the risk
• before a change at the workplace that is likely to give rise to a new or different health and
safety risk that the control measure may not effectively control
• if a new hazard or risk is identified
• if the results of consultation indicate that a review is necessary
• if a health and safety representative requests a review.
The hierarchy of risk control
Managing WHS Risks
Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process that is triggered when any
changes affect the work activities. The risk management process would be used when:
• starting a new business or purchasing a business
• changing work practices, procedures or the work environment
• purchasing new or used equipment or using new substances
• planning to improve productivity or reduce costs
• new information about workplace risks becomes available
• responding to workplace incidents (even if they have caused no injury)
• responding to concerns raised by workers, health and safety representatives or others at
• required by the WHS regulations for specific hazards
Risk Assessment of your own “studio”
• Analyse the space where you do your graphic design work. List all the activities carried
out in your studio, draw a diagram of your space and map the location of equipment
such as computers, shelving, etc.
• Identify the hazards associated with your work activities. For example, cables or open
cabinet doors which may cause tripping or injury, hazards due to dust inhalation, glare
from PC monitors which may cause eye strain, the chair/posture that you sit on etc.
• Rate the risk level associated with each hazard. To do this you need to evaluate the
likelihood that injury might occur and the severity of the injury. This assessment of risk is
based on your judgement of it.
• Evaluate the ‘controls’ that you may already have in place or may need to make
hazards less hazardous. Controls are essentially precautions that you put in place to
eliminate or reduce the risks.
Principles of Good Work Design
• Principles of Good Work Design is a work health and safety handbook based on the
principle that well-designed healthy and safe work will allow workers to have more
productive lives. The ten principles of good work design can be applied to help support
better work health and safety outcomes and business productivity. They are structured
into three sections:
1. Why good work design is important
2. What should be considered in good work design, and
3. How good work is designed