OHSAS 18001 certification and work accidents: Shedding light on the connection

J Safety Res. 2019 Feb;68:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2018.11.003. Epub 2018 Nov 29.


Introduction: The implications of OHSAS 18001 for substantive Occupational Health and Safety outcomes such, as a reduction in work accidents, have been under-researched in the scholarly literature. The impact of this standard on other aspects of performance, such as profitability and productivity, has attracted more attention.

Method: This article aims to fill this gap by shedding light on the relationship between OHSAS 18001 certification and the rates of minor, serious, and fatal accidents per employee at work experienced in certified and non-certified companies.

Results: Based on an analysis of a sample of 5,147 Spanish firms, the findings show that OHSAS 18001 certification is only loosely related with better occupational health and safety performance measured in terms of rate of accidents at work. A propensity for OHSAS 18001 certification to be found in economic sectors of activity with worse occupational health and safety outcomes in terms of rate of work-related accidents is identified. There is evidence of a negative selection-effect of the main international management standard for occupational health and safety. Potential distortions and biases that may be related to these and other findings in the scholarly literature are analyzed. Managerial implications of the main findings, implications for policy makers, and avenues for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Management systems; OHSAS 18001; Occupational health and safety; Performance; Work accidents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / economics
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Certification*
  • Commerce*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Occupational Health / standards*
  • Safety / standards*
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires