Prioritising Hazards & Planning Action

Developing a plan to change our workplace.

After completing the three mapping exercises – Body, Hazard and "Your World" mapping – the next step is to take the results and prioritise the hazards and plan what action to take.  Once again, this should be done with the whole group, with everyone participating in the activity. 

This activity will help you and your members to develop a plan to change your work environment.  It is unlikely that we can change the root causes of many problems without a much larger movement in society, but every step we take in our individual workplaces to change the immediate causes builds towards this broader goal.  For example, until governments introduce legislation which will ensure that culpable employers who cause the death of or serious injury to an employee are held more accountable (eg by being sent to jail, or having to pay seriously heavy fines), then there will always be some who will not comply with their legal responsibilities because it costs too much. 

In the meantime, however, health and safety reps can address problems in their own workplaces and ensure that the risks associated with hazards are eliminated or reduced as far as practicable.  Mapping helps reps do this.

The information in this part (like in parts 1, 2 & 3) has been developed to help the Health and Safety Representatives prioritise hazards and develop an Action Plan with members of their Designated Work Group. 

What you will need:  

  • Previously prepared "Prioritising and Action" Chart (see Attachment 2)
  • The results of the previous mapping exercises (Body, Hazard and "Your World" Mapping)
  • Various coloured marking pens or self-sticking coloured dots
  • Blue Tac (or sticky tape) to stick the chart on the wall or a white board
  • Optional overhead projector and overhead slide (See Attachment 1)

Running Prioritising Session:

1 – Getting started

Like the mapping exercises, it's best to do this exercise with all the members of your Designated Work Group together in the same place at the same time.

2 – Explain what the purpose of the prioritising exercise is, and why you are doing it.

  • Explain that through the series of mapping exercises, we (the rep and members of your DWG) identified a number of health problems, hazards and effects on our lives.  Tackling all of the problems at once will be difficult (if not impossible!) so it is important to decide which to work on first.
  • This exercise shows a technique for setting priorities.  We will also be thinking about some concrete steps that can be taken in the short and long term to change the working environment.
  • Some questions to ask when trying to decide which problems to tackle first might include:
    • Is this a serious concern for me personally?
    • Is this a serious concern for my co-workers?
    • Has this concern resulted in serious health problems (either for me or for my co-workers)?
    • Could this concern result in serious health problems?
    • Are many people affect by, or at risk of being affected by this problem?
    • Could this problem be corrected quickly and easily?

(You might like to put the above questions on an overhead and project these while discussing the exercise.  See Attachment 1)

  • Ask your members if there are any other criteria that should be considered.

3 – The actual prioritising

  • Ask your members, one at a time, to name one "high priority" health & safety problem (previously identified) to write in the first column of the chart (or you as the facilitator can do the writing).   Ask them to keep in mind the criteria just discussed.
  • Ask the person to also suggest a possible remedy or solution to the problem.  Ask them if they have any ideas for short-term and long-term action plans.
  • After the person has finished, invite other members to contribute other suggestions.
  • If more than one person names (or wanted to name) the same problem, don't write it down twice, but keep adding any possible solutions or action plans.
  • Once everyone in the group has had a turn, give each person three stickers.  Ask them to stick them next to the hazard/s they think are of the highest priority. Tell them they can use their dots as they like, ie all three dots on the same problem, or two on one and one on another, or one on three problems.
  • Everyone can come up together or in small groups.

The completed "Prioritising and Action" Chart may look something like the one below):

(together with the diagram and/or photo of the completed Body, Hazard and "Your World" map - use the template Attachment 2)

Health & Safety Problem

Possible Solution

Short-term action plan

Long-term action plan


Noise induced hearing loss

  • Install sound absorbing baffles
  • Change process
  • Survey membership
  • Awareness campaign by union
  • Lobby for better noise regs



  • Discuss the findings: Once all the votes have been cast, it's time to discuss the results.  

    Some questions you might like to ask the group at this point:
    • Now that we have completed the series of maps and created an action plan, how might some of our results be used?
    • Can any of the maps we've completed be presented to our employer? To the union/s? To a WorkSafe Inspector? To the media? etc (Remember – none of the maps should have any names or other identifiers on them)
    • Can the suggested solutions be presented to the employer or a WorkCover Inspector?  How?
    • Should further mapping be done with other workers (or workers in other DWGs)?
    • Should all the OHS reps at the workplace meet to consider a workplace wide action plan? (While some problems will be specific to your DWG and best handled through direct negotiation between you and the employer rep, others may be common to the whole workplace.  Other reps would therefore need to be involved in the process.)
    • Should the maps be kept for future reference or evidence?
    • Should mapping be done on an on-going basis?  If so, how often?

4 - Action

Following the discussion of the results, decide as a group what actions you want to take now. This may include meetings with the employer, raising issues for resolution, or any other action an elected health and safety rep can take.

Last amended January 2015