Risk Engineering

Some important concepts in safety management


These notes provide some information on a number of important theories and concepts developed by researchers in safety science, which should be of interest to students and practitioners in safety management. It also provides some descriptions of important historical events that have changed risk engineering practice.

Rasmussen and practical drift

Pioneering safety researcher Jens Rasmussen described a phenomenon which he called drift to danger, the “systemic migration of organizational behavior toward accident under the influence of pressure toward cost-effectiveness in an aggressive, competing environment”.

Rasmussen and practical drift

The Heinrich/Bird accident pyramid

The “safety pyramid”, first put forward by H. Heinrich in the 1930s, is a widely used but misleading model of accident causation.

The Heinrich/Bird accident pyramid

Heinrich’s domino theory of accident causation

Pioneering research on the causes of industrial accidents, but of little relevance to modern safety management.

Heinrich’s domino theory of accident causation

The history of insurance

Insurance against risk is an ancient concept. Some elements of history, starting in Babylonian times.

The history of insurance

Air France flight 447

An accident on a flight from Rio de Janiero to Paris illustrates the phenomenon of deskilling due to automation.

Air France flight 447

The Titanic

An “unsinkable” ship sinks, highlighting the risks of technological hubris.

The Titanic sinks

Interesting safety posters

Safety posters have long been commissioned by occupational safety agencies worldwide. A selection of posters with striking graphical design.

Collection of safety posters

 

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