Publication Details

Zanko, M. & Burrows, S. (2006). Towards an organizational model of occupational health and safety management: a review of the literature. In H. De Cieri, A. Bardoel, R. Barrett, D. Buttigieg, A. Rainnie & K. McLean (Eds.), Socially responsive, socially responsible approaches to employment and work: proceedings of the ACREW/KCL Conference Victoria, Australia: Monash University.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780732622930


The enormous, tragic and largely unnoticed problem of workplace injuries and deaths continues to beset countries around the globe. Tripartite regulatory approaches to address the issues involved often place primary responsibility on employers’ management of health and safety (OHS) at the workplace. This paper seeks to ascertain how OHS management at the organizational level has been treated in the research literature.

A review of thirteen leading management journals from 1994 to 2005 was conspicuous by the absence of interest in OHS management as the subject or field of study. An examination of six leading HRM journals over the same timeframe showed much the same. Naturally, the OHS literature was more fruitful. Five main categories were identified: prescriptive, error/disaster-based studies, culture and reliability studies, systematic OHS management studies and success/effectiveness studies. Each presents a different perspective on OHS management. However, there appears to be little in the way of understanding and explaining it at the organizational level from a perspective that views management not as a homogeneous grouping, but as a multilevel, multifunctional set of interests. The paper concludes by presenting the case for an in-depth, contextually embedded, multi-narrative examination of successful, exemplary OHS management as a basis for theory development.