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management practices (32 yes-no questions drawn from SafetyMAP10), and were rank-ordered on this basis. Six months after the guidelines had been distributed and when networking meetings had begun, each company was audited. The audit included documentation review, observation of work processes and interviews with a range of individuals in the company. The audit tool included 77 closed, unambiguous questions. Recommendations and action plans were developed based on the audit. The audit was repeated six to eight months later, and scores from the two audits were compared.

Four of the 20 companies which had been recruited dropped out during the study. The final sample included six companies employing between 5-19 people, four with 20-99 employees, and five with 100-199 employees. One large company (with 350 employees) was also included owing to its position as an “industry leader”. It provided a partnering role in the intervention, demonstrating the fact that OHS management could be integrated into a business strategy. Audit scores of the 16 companies showed that implementation of the OHSMS had improved in all but one company in the period between the two audits. On average, the companies improved by nine percentage points (on a 100-point scale). The biggest improvement (15 per cent) occurred in a company that had ranked in the mid range (ninth out of 20) at baseline. The rank order of the companies remained roughly the same in the second audit as in the first. Although the large companies improved more than the smaller ones, it is reported that some smaller companies also made significant gains.

The companies’ average scores on individual OHSMS elements varied between 31 per cent (on performance indicators/statistics) and 87 per cent (on performance indicators/reporting) on the first audit; between 33 and 91 per cent (on the same two measures) on the second. The greatest change was in workplace injury management, which improved 20 percentage points, from 64 to 84 per cent in the same period; the next greatest change was on two measures (management commitment and policy; responsibility and accountability) on each of which a 12 per cent improvement was shown (from 61 to 73 per cent, and from 35 to 47 per cent respectively).

On the basis of audit results, the authors observed that the single factor most consistently associated with companies’ ability to make changes is whether they allocated specific resources (which could be as simple as allocating responsibility to an existing staff member) and developed a plan to carry out the changes recommended in the first audit.

10 SafetyMAP (Safety Management Achievement Program), is an auditing tool designed by the Victorian WorkCover Authority to assist organisations improve their management of health and safety and implement a cycle of continuous improvement.

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


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