1st Edition

Preventing Industrial Accidents Reappraising H. W. Heinrich – More than Triangles and Dominoes

By Carsten Busch Copyright 2021
    304 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Herbert William Heinrich has been one of the most influential safety pioneers. His work from the 1930s/1940s affects much of what is done in safety today – for better and worse. Heinrich’s work is debated and heavily critiqued by some, while others defend it with zeal. Interestingly, few people who discuss the ideas have ever read his work or looked into its backgrounds; most do so based on hearsay, secondary sources, or mere opinion. One reason for this is that Heinrich’s work has been out of print for decades: it is notoriously hard to find, and quality biographical information is hard to get.

    Based on some serious "safety archaeology," which provided access to many of Heinrich’s original papers, books, and rather rich biographical information, this book aims to fill this gap. It deals with the life and work of Heinrich, the context he worked in, and his influences and legacy. The book defines the main themes in Heinrich’s work and discusses them, paying attention to their origins, the developments that came from them, interpretations and attributions, and the critiques that they may have attracted over the years. This includes such well-known ideas and metaphor as the accident triangle, the accident sequence (dominoes), the hidden cost of accidents, the human element, and management responsibility.

    This book is the first to deal with the work and legacy of Heinrich as a whole, based on a unique richness of material and approaching the matter from several (new) angles. It also reflects on Heinrich’s relevance for today’s safety science and practice.

    1. Introductions 2. A biography 3. Heinrich’s work 4. A scientific approach 5. The economics of safety 6. Accidents are caused 7. The human element 8. The role of management 9. The triangle 10. Other main themes 11. Heinrich in the 21st century


    Carsten Busch has studied Mechanical Engineering, Safety, and Human Factors. He has over 25 years of experience in Safety and Quality Management at various levels in organisations ranging from railway to oil & gas to police in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Norway. He is professionally active on various forums, owner of mindtherisk.com, tutor at Lund University Human Factors and System Safety programme, and author of Safety Myth 101, Veiligheidsfabels 1–2–3, and If You Can’t Measure It… Maybe You Shouldn’t. His main research interests include the history of knowledge development and discourse in safety.

    "I would recommend this book to practitioners of Human Factors; it is much more than just a biography of Heinrich but also a discussion of his work as relevant to the current landscape of Safety, and Human Factors. The discussion is both broad and comprehensive, well referenced and not simply an accolade to the man. Only by better understanding of Heinrich, his journey and the milestones of that genesis can the work it produced be fully evaluated and applied effectively. It is rarely possible to meet and discuss seminal works with their author, this book’s comprehensive delivery gives insight and comment as an alternative. This insight is then expanded into the areas and works which were developed following or directly as a result, allowing better understanding and evaluation of the whole."

    - Martin Birtle, Chartered Ergonomist & Human Factors Specialist