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objective in its appraisal.

The review’s extensive search of the current literature confirmed that no other systematic review has considered the effectiveness of OHSMSs. Until now there have only been high quality narrative reviews available (see section 2.7). The present review therefore makes a unique contribution to the research literature.

The research questions for the review, listed at the beginning of this report, were framed in collaboration with key stakeholders through formal and informal consultations. This increases the relevance of the review results for these stakeholders.

Although the review was necessarily restricted to the peer-reviewed published literature, it drew from a broad range of academic disciplines. The seven databases used represented the disciplines of occupational medicine, occupational safety, risk management, management, occupational psychology, and sociology.

Within the parameters set by the review questions and the included sources, the review team feels confident that the search has been both systematic and reasonably comprehensive and that it is unlikely that there are other items in the peer-reviewed, published literature that would dramatically alter the conclusions of the review.

5.2.2 Limitations of the review Time constraints limited consideration of the evidence to the published, peer-reviewed literature identified in seven academic databases. The usual expectation is that the literature of highest quality is in peer-reviewed journals. A large volume of articles was identified through these databases, despite multiple iterations of the search to enhance its specificity. This large number of articles meant that reviewers could only carry out a preliminary search and screen of other literature, i.e., that which is not peer-reviewed and published. Searches of CCInfoWeb and Dissertation Abstracts International30 were initiated, but were discontinued after the title and abstract screening step, due to time constraints.

The preliminary search of these additional sources suggests that there may be valuable research of the quality required for inclusion in the review published in the form of thesis dissertations and government agency reports. Furthermore, some of these are concerned with OHSMSs not yet reviewed here (e.g., Voluntary Protection and Maine 200 Programs in the U.S., the Management of Health and Safety Regulations in Britain). More research would be needed to determine whether these articles are actually of

30 Details of these databases are found in Appendix A. In contrast to the academic databases, which primarily abstract journal articles, these sources together yield abstracts from books, book chapters, reports, and thesis dissertations.

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


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