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“…take on a life of its own, divorced from the operations in the field. In some respects concentration upon the development and maintenance of the system diverted attention from what was actually happening in the practical functioning of the plant.”

The issue of performance measurement has also been taken up by others (Frick and Wren, 2000), with criticism being directed at the tendency of some OHSMSs to focus excessively on lost-time injury statistics or behavioural measures. Regarding the latter, the concern has been that the behaviour of workers is overemphasized. In the case of lost-time injuries, the concern has been that claims management rather than prevention becomes a workplace’s dominant focus. There may even be pressures to suppress injury reporting. Furthermore, with so much attention being directed to lost-time injuries, physical safety tends to overshadow other health issues, though OHSMSs are often ostensibly aimed at both.

2.7 Existing literature reviews on OHSMS Two recent books (Frick et al., 2000; Walters, 2002) contain chapters by international groups of authors, who describe the implementation of OHSMSs in their respective jurisdictions and some of the major forces which have contributed to/affected this movement. The edition by Walters (2002) focuses on a mandatory OHSMS, the EU Framework Directive 89/391, and describes its implementation in seven different EU settings. The various chapters provide a detailed description of trends and influences in the national contexts in which the Framework was implemented. This includes countries in which the Framework Directive caused little fundamental change, being already consistent with existing workplace culture and legislation (Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands), those in which the Directive was initially implemented in a “minimalist” fashion, but which has gradually been extended or has increased in interest (France, the UK), and those in which there was a more fundamental changes in political interest and/or regulatory structure (Italy, Germany).

Frick et al. (2000) contains chapters on the implementation and effects of mandatory OHSMS legislation in the EU, but this is not its primary focus. The book explores the roots of the movement in a more global perspective (including the EU, the US and Ontario contexts, Japan, Brazil) and the content includes political and strategic movements for promoting OHSMS, their applicability in changing labour markets and business structures, the promotion of health and safety in small workplaces, worker participation, and the integration of OHSMS into general business and management development. The overall tenor of the book is critical of OHSMSs, particularly the voluntary type, although a few positive cases are presented.

Saksvik and Quinlan (2003) compare the experiences of Norway and Australia in implementing OHSMS. They highlight the inter-dependence of occupational health and safety and industrial relations regulatory regimes.

Institute for Work & Health


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