OHS management systems: bridging theory and practice

25 May 2022

OHS management systems: bridging theory and practice

The presentation is based on the AIHS Body of Knowledge chapter on OHS management systems (OHSMS), will present a brief review of the literature on OHSMS, and provide a practical perspective derived from a discussion forum with OHS professionals.

While organisations implement various programs and initiatives to ensure occupational health and safety (OHS), they do not always connect them under a systems perspective. An OHS management system (OHSMS) requires a holistic approach to risk management that is shared across the organisation.

A systems approach provides systematic management for process consistency while recognising inevitable system variability, the interdependence of system elements, and the importance of participation and shared learning. A systems approach can ensure OHS is on par with other organisational business objectives and is likely to increase the probability of compliance with legal obligations.

However, implementation of an OHSMS does not guarantee improvement in OHS performance, and the OHS professional should be cognisant of factors that are likely to increase OHSMS effectiveness.

Drawing on both the literature and the practical perspective, the chapter concludes with implications for OHS practice, including a set of guiding principles for OHSMS development.