organizational theories underlying OHSMSs, according to Nielsen’s (2000) analysis of OHSMSs. He finds OHSMSs reflective of the “rational” models of organizations, which include Tayloristic models, classic bureaucratic models, and particular general systems models wherein the social sub- system component is circumscribed.
Reports on worker participation within Norwegian Internal Control have been more favourable (Lindøe and Hansen, 2000). An Internal Control Committee found that IC improved the cooperative climate and gave employees greater influence over procedures. Lindøe’s doctoral thesis based on three case studies reported that introducing IC had a positive impact on the status and roles of workers council, on safety delegates, as well as on the safety service.
The analysis by Nielsen (2000) also posits that the effectiveness of OHSMSs might be enhanced by the application of concepts found in more modern, “non-rational” theories of organizations, involving concepts of human relations, chaos, and the political nature of organizations. He implies that OHSMSs might benefit from a more complete rendering of a general systems model, as in socio-technical approaches. These aim for the joint optimization of the technical and social sub-systems of an organization. However, the elements in the Redinger and Levine (1998) framework demonstrate a primary focus on the technical sub-system and a secondary one on the social sub-system. Yet, certain workplace disasters have been attributed to an inadequate safety culture and safety climate (Kennedy and Kirwan, 1998, citing ACSNI, 1993).
Bennett (2002) identified further concerns with voluntary OHSMSs, particularly those developed outside public agencies. First, legal compliance is sometimes not specified in some OHSMSs, and this could take the focus off an important safeguard for OHS. Second, some systems focus on risk instead of hazards, the latter focus being preferred by labour (lest some hazards be deemed tolerable risks). Third, some systems are based on performance standards, leaving a wide range of discretion to the user, in contrast to specification standards, which do not. Fourth, while all formal OHSMSs require audit, some are quite vague about what that should involve.
The importance attached to audits was explored by Gallagher (2003), who found that experts in the safety field were concerned that the mere presence of an OHSMS, and especially of audit results, could give a false sense of security, and the picture they provide is distorted. She presented some of the findings of the Royal Commission investigating a fatal explosion at an Esso gas plant, as reported by Hopkins (2000). The Commission concluded that Esso’s Operational Integrity Management System (OIMS), which was regarded as an exemplary OHSMS, tended to:
Effectiveness of Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems: A Systematic Review