Foundations of Safety Science: A Century of Understanding Accidents and Disasters, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Foundations of Safety Science

A Century of Understanding Accidents and Disasters, 1st Edition

By Sidney Dekker


446 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138481787
pub: 2019-04-18
Hardback: 9781138481770
pub: 2019-04-16
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781351059794
pub: 2019-04-09
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


How are today’s ‘hearts and minds’ programs linked to a late-19th century definition of human factors as people’s moral and mental deficits? What do Heinrich’s ‘unsafe acts’ from the 1930’s have in common with the Swiss cheese model of the early 1990’s? Why was the reinvention of human factors in the 1940’s such an important event in the development of safety thinking? What makes many of our current systems so complex and impervious to Tayloristic safety interventions? ‘Foundations of Safety Science’ covers the origins of major schools of safety thinking, and traces the heritage and interlinkages of the ideas that make up safety science today.


  • Offers a comprehensive overview of the theoretical foundations of safety science
  • Provides balanced treatment of approaches since the early 20th century, showing interlinkages and cross-connections
  • Includes an overview and key points at the beginning of each chapter and study questions at the end to support teaching use
  • Uses an accessible style, using technical language where necessary
  • Concentrates on the philosophical and historical traditions and assumptions that underlie all safety approaches

Table of Contents

The 1900s and Onward: Beginnings. The 1910s and Onward: Taylor and Proceduralization. The 1920s and Onward: Accident-Prone. The 1930s and Onward: Heinrich and Behavior-Based Safety. The 1940s and Onward: Human Factors and Cognitive Systems Engineering. The 1950s, 1960s and Onward: System Safety. The 1970s and Onward: Man-Made Disasters. The 1980s and Onward: Normal Accidents and High Reliability Organizations. The 1990s and Onward: Swiss Cheese and Safety Management Systems. The 2000s and Onward: Safety Culture. The 2010s and Onward: Resilience Engineering. Postscript.

About the Author

Sidney Dekker (PhD Ohio State University, USA, 1996) is professor of social science at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, where he runs the Safety Science Innovation Lab. He is also Professor (Hon.) of psychology at The University of Queensland, and Professor (Hon.) of human factors and patient safety at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Previously, he was Professor of human factors and system safety at Lund University in Sweden. After becoming full professor, he learned to fly the Boeing 737, and worked part-time as an airline pilot out of Copenhagen. He is author of, most recently: The End of Heaven: Disaster and Suffering in a Scientific Age (2017); Just Culture: Restoring Trust and Accountability in Your Organization (2016); Safety Differently (2015); The Field Guide to Understanding ‘Human Error’ (2014); Second Victim (2013); Drift into Failure (2011); Patient Safety (2011). More at

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Engineering
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety