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The scope of the review included both mandatory and voluntary OHSMSs.

Voluntary OHSMSs arise through private enterprise, employer groups, government and its agencies, insurance carriers, professional organizations, standards associations and are not directly linked to regulatory requirements. Government-affiliated agencies or insurance carriers sometimes offer incentives to organizations that adopt particular voluntary OHSMSs.

Mandatory OHSMSs arise from government legislation and its enforcement through inspections, fines, etc. In general, mandatory OHSMSs are simpler in terms of what they require of organizations, since they are intended for all or most workplaces, including small workplaces.

1.3 What research was included? The review team searched seven electronic databases covering a wide range of journals. These contained mainly abstracts of peer-reviewed articles from a variety of disciplines. Reviewers sought relevant studies on OHSMSs, including both implementation and effectiveness research. The initial search produced 4807 studies.

1.3.1 Study relevance The studies were screened for relevance by testing their titles and abstracts against an explicit set of inclusion criteria. For inclusion, reported research had to address at least two of the 27 elements in a comprehensive OHS framework; one of these two had to be a management element. After this initial screening, potentially relevant publications were tested again against the inclusion criteria. At this point, 18 studies were considered eligible and were appraised for their methodological quality.

1.3.2 Quality appraisal, data extraction and evidence synthesis The methodological quality of each study was rated independently by at least two reviewers using a set of explicit criteria. The reviewers then met to reach consensus.

For evidence to be included in the data extraction and evidence synthesis, reviewers had to agree that it met the standard for being of at least “moderate” quality. Nine studies reached this minimal quality requirement.

Of the nine studies, four examined voluntary systems and five evaluated mandatory systems. None of these studies provided evidence of sufficient quality on facilitators and barriers but they did provide information on implementation and effectiveness of OHSMSs.

Institute for Work & Health


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