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One strategy would have been to review only the literature that referred to some variant of the term “occupational health and safety management system.” This approach seemed too narrow, since it would have potentially excluded relevant OHS interventions that happened to use different terminology, such as “Internal Control”, “systematic occupational health and safety management” or even “comprehensive safety program.”

Consideration was given to requiring an OHSMS intervention to address at least one element from each of the five conceptual categories of the Redinger and Levine (1998) framework (discussed in section 2.4), but this criterion was not adopted for fear that this too might exclude too many OHSMS interventions of interest. The review’s scope included mandatory OHSMS interventions, which are usually targeted to the majority of workplaces, and are thus less elaborate than some voluntary systems.

A minimalist definition of an OHSMS intervention was adopted. An intervention was required to address two or more of the 27 elements in the Redinger and Levine (1998) framework, with at least one of these being a management element, as opposed to an operational/activity element. 6

The inclusion criteria also required that the studies involve an intervention, for which the OHSMS elements were described either explicitly or through reference to a known OHSMS. The criterion was intended to exclude studies that investigated the relationship between a researcher-defined measure of OHSMSs and outcomes out of the context of an intervention. In doing so, the review focussed on findings that had the most direct implications for decision-makers contemplating OHSMS interventions.

It was expected that facilitators of and barriers to OHSMS implementation and effectiveness would encompass factors internal to the OHSMS (e.g., management commitment to OHS, performance indicators, worker participation), factors external to the OHSMS but in the workplace (e.g., company size, presence of other management systems), and factors external to the workplace (e.g., trade pressures). Given this expectation, it would seem at first glance that almost any study looking at the effect of a single OHSMS element on OHS performance might have to be included. As a means of narrowing this unfeasible scope, publications looking at facilitators of or barriers to effectiveness were required to specify a level of OHSMS implementation. It was intended that this criterion would limit the retrieved studies to those where the reader would have an understanding of the implementation context, and thus, its applicability elsewhere.

6 It should be noted that the requirement for at least two elements of the management system intentionally excluded the body of literature that has accumulated on single elements of OHSMSs (e.g., LaMontagne et al., 1996; Shannon et al., 1996; Habeck et al., 1998; Cohen, 1977; Simard and Marchand, 1994; Reilly et al., 1995), since the review’s focus was systems.

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