Publication Details

Zanko, M. & Dawson, P. (2012). Occupational health and safety management in organizations: A review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14 (3), 328-344. The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com.


In examining the research literature on occupational health and safety (OHS), this paper argues that the growth in the number of specialists in OHS has resulted in an emphasis on policy and practice away from more scholastic concerns previously addressed by academics in the disciplines of psychology and sociology. A hiatus has occurred, and this is evidenced by the general absence of studies in management, even though OHS is increasingly seen as a key operational and strategic concern of business organizations. The authors call for OHS to be placed firmly on the research agenda of management scholars, and advocate the need for greater conceptual development, empirical study and theoretical reflection to complement existing pragmatic concerns of OHS specialists. In this review, the contributions of psychology, sociology, industrial relations and management studies are assessed, and five categories of specialist OHS literature are analysed, namely: prescriptive; systematic OHS management; success based; error and disaster based; and culture, climate and high-reliability studies. The conceptual and methodological limitations of this specialist focus are discussed, and future research opportunities are highlighted, for which the authors argue that management scholars embrace a range of methodological approaches. The authors advocate the value of extended case studies which examine OHS in context and over time in particular workplace settings. There remains considerable scope to develop this field further and, in conclusion, particular attention is drawn to the value of processoriented contextual approaches for understanding OHS management in organizations.



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