Strengths and limitations of this systematic review
Strengths of the review The studies included in the review were
drawn from the research literature of a broad range of disciplines. They confirmed that there has been no other systematic review of the effectiveness of OHSMSs. The questions for the review were framed in collaboration with key stakeholders through formal and informal consultations thereby increasing the relevance of the review results for these stakeholders.
1.5.2 Limitations of the review The large volume of literature from the seven databases meant that reviewers could only carry out a preliminary search and screen of other literature, i.e., that which is not peer-reviewed and published. A search of thesis dissertations and “grey literature” identified government reports and publications which did in fact meet the systematic review’s inclusion criteria. More research would be needed to determine whether these articles are of sufficient quality to contribute to the evidence base on OHSMS.
1.6 Identifying and addressing research gaps The review identified a number of gaps in the research. The most important was the lack of research whose explicit purpose was to study the effectiveness of voluntary and mandatory OHSMSs on employee health and safety and economic outcomes. The research designs were not sufficiently rigorous to allow for a high degree of confidence in the findings. This paucity of high quality studies may reflect, at least in part, how difficult it is to carry out applied research in workplaces.
1.7 Conclusions and recommendations The synthesis of the best evidence available showed consistently positive effects in workplaces for voluntary and mandatory OHSMSs. However the absolute number of studies producing these results was not large and their quality was not high. The current applicability of these results to Canada is also questionable.
There is insufficient evidence in the published, peer-reviewed literature on the effectiveness of OHSMSs to make recommendations either in favour of or against OHSMSs. This is not to judge these systems as ineffective or undesirable; it is merely to say that it would be incautious to judge either way in the present state of our research knowledge.
Given the current state of evidence regarding OHSMSs effectiveness:
The review team recommends that those who fund Canadian research should support studies examining the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of OHSMSs. Support should also be given to research aimed at
Institute for Work & Health