Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heinrich's Axioms of Industrial Safety

Extracts from H.W. Heinrich, "Industrial Accident Prevention", 3rd edition, 1950, McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc.:

1. The occurrence of an injury invariably results from a completed sequence of factors-the last one of these being the accident itself. The accident in turn is invariably caused or permitted by the unsafe act of a person and/or a mechanical or physical hazard.

2. The unsafe acts of persons are responsible for a majority of accidents.

3. The person who suffers a disabling injury caused by an unsafe act, in the average case has had over 300 narrow escapes from serious injury as a result of committing the very same unsafe act. Likewise, persons are exposed to mechanical hazards hundreds of times before they suffer injury.

4. The severity of an injury is largely fortuitous-the occurrence of the accident that results in injury is largely preventable.

5. The four basic motives or reasons for the occurrence of unsafe acts provide a guide to the selection of appropriate corrective measures.

6. Four basic methods are available for preventing accidents -engineering revision, persuasion and appeal, personnel adjustment, and discipline.

7. Methods of most value in accident prevention are analogous with the methods required for the control of the quality, cost, and quantity of production.

8. Management has the best opportunity and ability to initiate the work of prevention, therefore it should assume the responsibility.

9. The supervisor or foreman is the key man in industrial accident prevention. His application of the art of supervision to the control of worker performance is the factor of greatest influence in successful accident prevention.

10. The humanitarian incentive for preventing accidental injury is supplemented by two powerful economic factors: (1) the safe establishment is efficient productively and the unsafe establishment is inefficient; (2) the direct employer cost of industrial injuries for compensation claims and for medical treatment is but one-fifth of the total cost which the employer must pay.


These ten items are the essence of a good safety program. If you know nothing about safety program development and execution, follow these axioms carefully and you will be better off than a lot of companies who preach but do not practice. Stay safe!