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September 2014

Worth Reading

Safety Management
On the Practice of Safety, Fourth Edition

By Fred A. Manuele. Published by John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

It wasn’t until 1987 after 6 years as a safety consultant that I really learned the true meaning of the term safety profession. I was fortunate to work for Fred Manuele for several years, which helped shape my approach to the profession. Having read Manuele’s numerous articles and books over the years, it is apparent that he is one of the finest critical thinkers in our profession.

His fourth edition of On the Practice of Safety is no exception. It is a complete work, highlighting his research findings, seminal concepts and often thought-provoking theories. The book is completely updated and realigned, with new and expanded chapters addressing recent developments and current trends facing our profession.

The book opens with a new chapter “On Becoming a Profession” aimed at helping safety practitioners elevate their value and position to the professional level. This is a fitting beginning for this edition, as it sets the tone and outlines requirements and concepts for taking the practice to a higher level. Safety professionals would be wise to embrace these thoughts.

Essential topics and developing trends are presented and emphasized in the book. As always, Manuele is ahead of his time with his unique ability to see opportunities for the profession that are not easily recognized by many. An entire chapter is devoted to “Improving Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention,” which challenges the notion that current safety theories and practices are adequate. He poses questions in his writing that require the reader to think critically about accepted practices, and challenges the profession to be more creative and innovative in its approach to solving operational risk problems.

A new chapter presenting “A Systemic Sociotechnical Model for an Operational Risk Management System” breaks new ground. The model promotes, describes and ties together several concepts that provide “an understanding of the upstream sources from which causal factors originate.” This ultimately leads to management commitment and a culture that embraces prevention through design principles.

Other key themes of the book include the importance of risk assessment, system safety, management of change and designing in safety. A new chapter on “Management of Change/Prejob Planning” makes the case that an effective operational risk management system must include management of change to reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities. Specific examples are provided, giving the reader a practical sense for applying the concept of management of change and preplanning in various industries and situations.

In addition, the book contains a rich amount of references and highlighted aspects from other recognized leaders and safety researchers. Of particular interest is the somewhat controversial review of Heinrich’s previously accepted theories: the unsafe acts causation theory (the 88-10-2 ratios) and the 300-29-1 accident pyramid theory (reducing accident frequency equals a similar reduction in severity). Manuele provides convincing evidence for careful consideration and debate for dislodging these two myths, presenting another opportunity for the safety profession to become more current and impactful as change agents in organizational risk management.

Other important areas covered in the edition include the role of applied ergonomics and ergonomic risk assessment, sustainability, management system audits and safety performance measurement, the concept of acceptable risk, lean concepts and quality management, as well as cost-benefit analysis and other financial management tools.
It is difficult to do the book justice in a review such as this. I hope that safety professionals, universities and other stakeholders with an interest in professional safety seek out this edition. I believe it will provide abundant returns to those who learn from and apply the concepts presented by Manuele.

Bruce K. Lyon, P.E., CSP, ARM, CHMM
Kansas City, MO

Guide to Safety Analysis for Accident Prevention

By Lars Harms-Ringdahl. Published by IRS Riskhantering AB, 2013.

Guide to Safety Analysis for Accident Prevention presents methodology for analysis of risks within the SH&E profession. The handbook discusses how safety analysis can be practically applied as a tool for accident prevention. The main focus is on the qualitative methods that can be used to analyze systems and to investigate incidents. The book presents more than 40 methods, including techniques for risk evaluation. The emphasis is on general methods that can be applied in industry, production, transport, medicine and public events. Visit to download the handbook for free.


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