Effectiveness of occupational health and safety management systems: a systematic review

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Published: January 2005

by: Robson LS, Clarke J, Cullen KL, Bielecky A, Severin C, Bigelow P, Irvin E, Culyer AJ, Mahood Q

Occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMSs) have developed considerably over the last 20 years. There are now more OHSMSs in place and available than ever before. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of these systems on employee health and safety and on relevant economic outcomes.

The Institute for Work & Health conducted a systematic review of the literature to assess the research evidence on the effectiveness of OHSMSs. Many countries, including Canada, are in the process of developing management standards for occupational health and safety, so a better understanding of the impact of these systems is timely.

This systematic review, described in this report,  set out to investigate three key issues: What is the relative effectiveness of mandatory and voluntary OHSMSs on employee health and safety and associated economic outcomes? What facilitators and barriers are there to the adoption and the effectiveness of OHSMSs? What is the evidence on the cost-effectiveness of OHSMSs?