K. Field, BSI, London, UK

Millions of companies around the world have adopted management system standards believing that following a structured framework of best practice will yield benefits. These standards set requirements on operational processes and procedures, and (to a greater or lesser extent) the governance frameworks needed to make it work, both of which are important in enhancing an organizations overall resilience. Importantly the standards also require ongoing improvement. Organizations considering adopting any management system standard have a clear interest in knowing whether doing so would actually lead them to improve their performance.

Studies on management system maturity, and individual organizational measures and feedback would certainly suggest that implementing management systems has a positive effect – but independent, empirical evidence has not been available…until now. New research by the Harvard Business School examines this question in the context of BSI’s OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard (now ISO 45001). The research analysed proprietary certification data from some of the world’s largest certification companies and injury microdata from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is the first study to directly examine the effects of the OHSAS 18001 standard on establishment-level health and safety performance using injury and illness data.

During this session, you’ll find out more about the research and discover the answer to the following questions:

  • Does implementation of OHSAS 18001 (ISO 45001) enhance performance?
  • Does health and safety performance plateau over time?
  • What impact does certification have on performance?


Viswanathan, Kala and Johnson, Matthew and Toffel, Michael W., Do Management System Standards Indicate Superior Performance? Evidence from the OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Standard (December 5, 2021). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 22-042, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3988416 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3988416

Scroll to top