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the initial literature search step. The search strategy needs to be adapted to each database, and any duplication of abstracts between databases eliminated.

    • There was an overall scarcity of high-quality evidence about the effectiveness of OHSMSs on employee health and safety and associated economic outcomes.

      • 2.4

        Defining OHSMSs

There is no consensus on what an OHSMS is and its scope is potentially wide. Some definitions are simply too vague to be helpful in determining which literature should be included in a systematic review: e.g., the definition used by the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2001):

“A set of interrelated or interacting elements to establish OSH policy and objectives, and to achieve those objectives.”

The definition used in the Australian-New Zealand OHSMS standard AS/NZS 4801:20013 is more specific, but is still very broad:

“…that part of the overall management system which includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the OHS policy and so managing the risks associated with the business of the organization.”

It is not clear from the second definition whether the management system includes only management components or technical/operational components as well. After all, the technical/operational components play a role in “implementing…OHS policy” and “managing the risks.” This problem has also been noted by Nielsen (2000):

“OHSM systems are not, of course, a well-defined set of management systems. Indeed there are not clear boundaries between OHS activities, OHS management, and OHSM systems.”

OHSMSs, as commonly understood, are distinguished from traditional OHS programs by being more proactive, better internally integrated and for incorporating elements of evaluation and continuous improvement. Some OHSMS documents (e.g., ILO, 2001; Chemical Industries Association, 1995; HSE, 1997) explicitly ascribe their basic source as the Plan-Do- Check-Act model of continuous quality improvement that W. Edwards Deming introduced to the management field (Tartorella, 1995). Indeed, many OHSMSs involve the following continuous cycle:


Quotation provided by Victoria Workcover Authority website (www.workcover.vic.gov.au)

Effectiveness of Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems: A Systematic Review


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