Part 4: “Your World” Mapping

What's the effect of work on our whole lives?

Often we fail to recognise the impact that work has on our families, our ability to participate in social activities, and on our relationships.  Work is central to our lives because it takes up so much of our time, our thoughts, and our energy – even when we are not physically at work.  Usually we can't leave our aches and pains and stress at work when we go home after a shift.  Our fatigue and injuries and health problems often stay with us – sometimes for years after our work has finished.  Injuries, illnesses and stresses caused by poor working conditions and the lack of basic security can have a profound effect on our quality of life.

How "Your World" Mapping can help:

"Your World" Mapping looks at the impact of the job on your whole life. 

"Your World" Mapping is a do-it-yourself research tool, a complement to Body Mapping (Part 1) and Hazard Mapping (Part 2).  It's a way of examining all those niggling, hurting, irritating problems arising out of the job, and assessing how they impact on your entire life. 

The approach is very simple, but it (like the other mapping tools) gives a visual picture of how problems inside work cause problems outside of work.  Instead of negotiating health and safety improvements piecemeal, the real underlying issues can be identified and tackled.

Using "Your World" Mapping can help you collect information about the effects of working conditions on workers':

  • family lives
  • social lives
  • communities
  • neighbourhoods, and
  • mental and emotional health.

This information (like Part 1: Body Mapping and Part 2: Hazard Mapping) has been developed to help Health and Safety Representatives run one or more "Your World" Mapping sessions with members of their Designated Work Group. 

It provides them with some guidance, some ideas on the sorts of things they might want to discuss with their members, what they might do following a Mapping session, and so on.  How HSRs run the session is up to them: they have had some experience running Body and Hazard Mapping sessions, so this is the logical next step. 

What you will need:  

  • Some large pieces of paper (eg Butcher's paper) with "Your World" Map written at the top, and a small human figure at the centre.  This can be drawn freehand – but even a stick figure will do for this exercise.
  • Various coloured marking pens, diagrams/photos from magazines (optional).
  • Blue Tac (or sticky tape) to stick the "Your World" Map on the wall or whiteboard
  • The results of the previous mapping exercises (Body and Hazard Mapping)

Running a Your World Mapping Session:

1 – Getting started

Like the other two mapping exercises, it's best to call a group of workers to do "Your World" Mapping all together in the same place at the same time. 

Like the other mapping exercises, "Your World" Mapping should be done with members from your own Designated Work Group (unless it is too large – in which case you could consider running separate sessions for separate groups of workers).  

2 – Explain what "Your World" Mapping is and why you are doing it

By now the members of your DWG will have a good idea about what mapping is about and why it is so useful.  They should also have a clear understanding of what your role is as OHS rep.

Explain that the "Your World" Map is the final step, putting everything they have identified in the previous two exercises in perspective, and mapping the impact that work has on our personal lives.

3 – The actual mapping 

  • Attach the "Your World" Map to the wall/whiteboard.
  • Ask the group to draw anything that comes into their heads that demonstrates some aspect of how work affects their health or their lives.
  • Encourage them to be creative and not worry about their drawing ability.
  • The members of the group can use words, symbols or pictures. Pictures don't have to be detailed or sophisticated. Symbols and short notes can be used to make it clear what the pictures mean. The idea is that a clear link is made between issues outside the workplace and specific work-related causes. Some examples:
    • A sketch or photo of children might represent problems juggling childcare and work.  Words like "Difficult to arrange childcare because of shift work/long hours" can be added next to the drawing.
    • Or another worker might draw a bed to indicate that he/she never gets a good night's sleep because of worrying about the job, or because of shift work.
    • A picture of sports equipment might indicate how someone used to play sport, but now doesn't have the time.
    • A photo of the family on holiday might represent that holidays with the family no longer happen because of work pressures or low pay.
    • A picture of a garden/flower may indicate that the worker used to enjoy gardening before a bad back caused by work meant that s/he could no longer garden.
  • Ask the workers to explain to the other workers in the group what they have drawn and what it means.

    The completed "Your World" Map may look something like this:

  • Discuss the findings: After everyone in the group has finished their mapping and reporting, you can ask the group for observations about any patterns which start to appear. 

    Some other questions you might like to ask them:
    • Does anything surprise you about what is emerging from "Your World" map?
    • Does there seem to be a common theme to the problems revealed on this map?
    • List the causes and effects of problems.

4 - Action

Discuss and write down the main themes emerging from the discussion, and the list of causes and effects.  Use this list to set some initial priorities. 

Use the results of this exercise, and the results of the other mapping exercise (Body Mapping and Hazard Mapping) to prioritise and plan further action (see Part 4: Planning Further Action.)

Further information

Further assistance can be obtained by contacting your Union.  Many Unions have a designated Occupational Health & Safety Officer.

Last amended January 2015