Nektarios Karanikas, Aleksandar Popovich, Stephanie Steele, Nathan Horswill, Vanessa Laddrak, Tameiko Roberts
A systems approach to Occupational Health & Safety Management (OHSM) acknowledges that entities of people, equipment, tools, processes and policies are all interconnected and interrelated, and in conjunction affect the outcomes and achievements of any business undertaking. Although several internationally recognised standards for OHSM systems draw on the synergy between systematic management, which reflects the degree of system control, and systems thinking, which represents the degree of system knowledge, the different levels of application of these two approaches during their symbiosis within a given system has not been visibly articulated. In our work, we reviewed relevant literature and reflected on the possible combinations of systematic management practice with the knowledge generated through systems thinking from a sociotechnical perspective. Based on the degree to which any variability is seen as inevitable and the extent to which the organisation aims to control it, we translated the various blends of the two paradigms into the ways an organisation generates and establishes objectives and procedures. Our premise is that there is no golden rule and that systems thinking and systematic management must be combined with caution and an understanding of the inherent limitations of each approach and the context in which they are introduced.
Systems thinking, Health and Safety Management, Variability, Systematic management, Objectives, Procedures