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4.3 Effectiveness of voluntary OHSMSs The term “voluntary OHSMS”, as used here, means those OHSMSs which have been developed and /or implemented by enterprises on a voluntary basis, rather than the result of legislation, regulations, and their enforcement. The impetus for undertaking voluntary OHSMSs may have been decisions taken within the workplace or sector, or there may have been encouragement by government bodies, their agencies or workers’ compensation insurers. In some cases, there may have been a research initiative. This was the case in Pearse (2002), where researchers recruited companies to investigate the suitability of OHSMSs for small and medium sized businesses.

The review’s search for relevant literature resulted in nine studies of voluntary OHSMSs, four of which (Edkins, 1998; Yassi, 1998; Alsop and LeCouture, 1999; Pearse, 2002) remained after quality assessment (summarized in Table 4.3.1). The outcomes used in these studies varied. One (Pearse, 2002) involved the degree of OHSMS implementation; the study by Edkins (1998) measured “intermediate outcomes” involving safety culture and employee hazard reporting; in the two remaining studies (Alsop and LeCouture, 1999; Yassi, 1998) the main focus was on economic outcomes..

Three studies (Pearse, 2002; Edkins, 1998; Alsop and LeCouture, 1999) were Australian; the other (Yassi, 1998) was Canadian, (Manitoba).

The voluntary OHSMSs in Australia were instituted in a context in which the various levels of government were strongly promoting a systematic approach to occupational health and safety, and agencies were supplying self-audit tools or system models (as described by Saksvik and Quinlan,

  • 2003)


      • 4.3.1

        Studies of implementation Pearse (2002) described a project called

Club Zero, funded by the WorkCover NSW Injury Prevention, Education and Research Grants Scheme. The purpose was to study the applicability of OHSMSs to small and medium-sized companies. The OHSMS intervention included guidelines tailored specifically for small to medium-sized metal manufacturers. In addition to the introduction of the OHSMS, the intervention involved the creation of a network of participating companies (20 fabricated metal products companies in southwest Sydney, Australia), and 10 network meetings in which participants shared resources and experiences and discussed particular aspects of OHSMS implementation.

At the start of the 27-month study period (before the distribution of guidelines and commencement of network meetings), participating companies completed a self-administered survey about their OHS

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


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