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The authors concluded that, although not all companies were motivated by this collaborative approach, for some small and medium sized companies, OHSMSs were applicable and improvements were gained by their introduction. Unfortunately, the role of the networking component (in which half the companies participated) was not analyzed. Reviewers noted that the results could not be generalized to a larger population of small and medium- sized companies because the sample was not randomly selected: in particular, the refusal rate among potential participants was substantial at the start of the project (67 per cent). No statistical analysis was provided, nor was there consideration of potential confounders which might have influenced the results.

4.3.2 Studies of intermediate outcomes The one study (Edkins, 1998) with intermediate outcomes investigated the effectiveness of a safety program called “Identifying Needed Defences In the Civil Aviation Transport Environment” (INDICATE) in improving the safety performance of small airlines. This OHSMS involved employee health and safety and also passenger safety and the prevention of catastrophic accidents. The study was done at a time when the aviation industry was being encouraged to be more active in identifying safety deficiencies following public inquiries into two airline crashes.

Two sites operated by a regional airline in Australia were involved in this non-randomized trial - the intervention site (with 81 employees) at which the INDICATE program was initiated, and the other (with 72 employees) acting as control.

The INDICATE program involved:

  • appointment of an operational safety manager available to staff as a confidante for safety related issues;

  • a regular series of staff focus groups to identify safety hazards within the organization;

  • a confidential safety hazard reporting system;

  • regular safety meetings with management;

  • maintenance of a safety information database;

  • regular distribution of safety information to all staff.

In the control group, only the confidential hazard reporting system was implemented.

Institute for Work & Health


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