Recently, I had the pleasure to have a conversation about safety, myths and more with Jeff Dalto from Covergence Training. 

Jeff did a wonderful job transcribing the whole hour and put it out on the Convergence website.

Watch and read it here:

We are proud to present the Dutch, adapted version of Safety Myth 101. Vakmedianet did a fabulous job and it has become a very book of its own, thanks to the contents (that has changed through language) and through the smashing layout.

Find an extremely positive review of the book on, Sigma and Or the blog on ManagementImpact.

New review on Arbobekwaam.

Get it from the publisher, Vakmedianet, or for example from online bookstore

Safety Myth 101: A Quick Overview

The book contains seven chapters, some of these divided into sub-chapters. The chapters and sub-chapters are collections of Myths that are loosely related and all deal with the subject of the (sub)-chapter. 

The Myths are discussions of a subject or of a couple of related subjects. These discussions are as compact as possible, taking between one and four pages. To keep things compact, some points or comments have been placed in endnotes. This is information that is important (or at least interesting, or sometime just funny), but not essential for the point to be made. You do not need to read endnotes to get the point, but you might miss some goodies.

Most chapters contain additional material in the form of columns that are placed in shaded text boxes. These columns are typically reflections related to the chapter’s subject.

Each chapter comes with a section with recommendations for further reading (including brief reviews/summaries of the mentioned books) and, as mentioned, a section with endnotes.


Introduction: Houston, We Have a Problem

Why Are Things the Way They Are?

What Can Be Done?


I: General issues


Myth 1. Safety Is about Absence of Accidents

Myth 2. Safety Means Absence of Risk

Myth 3. Safety Is Black and White

Myth 4. Safety Is Something You Have

Myth 5. Hazards Are Undesirable

Myth 6. Safety and Security Are Two Different Things

Language and Communication

Myth 7. Language Doesn’t Matter

Myth 8. Difficult Jargon Demonstrates Competence

Myth 9. As Simple as Possible

Myth 10. Absolutes Are a Sign of Clear and Firm Communication

Myth 11. Slogans Are a Great Way to Enhance Safety

Myth 12. Culture and Resilience are Just Buzzwords

Column: Safety Behaviour Language between the Lines

Common Sense?

Myth 13. Common Sense Is Just Common Sense

Myth 14. Safety Is Just Common Sense?

Myth 15. Don’t You Have Any Common Sense?


Myth 16. Models Are to Be Understood Literally

Myth 17. Causation Is Correlation

Myth 18. Follow the Crowd

Myth 19. The Application Is the Method

Myth 20. Research Explains Itself


II: The Safety Professional

Myth 21. You Are a Bad Safety Professional if…

Myth 22. Safety Professional’s Behaviour Is Superhuman

Myth 23. Save the World!

Myth 24. Judging Safety Professionals by Preventing Accidents

Myth 25. Safety Stat Accountability

Myth 26. Authority to STOP

Myth 27. The Safety Pro’s Prime Responsibility Is Safety

Myth 28. The Safety Pro Has All the Answers

Myth 29. No Need to Read Professional Literature

Myth 30. Sticking to Safety

Myth 31. You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Myth 32. Being Out There

Myth 33. Safety Cops

Myth 34. Diplomas Make Good Safety Professionals

Myth 35. Accidental Safety Experts

Myth 36. Humour Has No Place in Safety


III: Safety Management & More

Myth 37. The PDCA Cycle Was Invented by Deming

Myth 38. Surely PPE Will Keep You Safe?

Myth 39. Management and Leadership Are the Same Thing

Myth 40. Safety Can Be Managed Separately

Myth 41. Compliance Is What We Need

Myth 42. Sanction-Enhanced Safety

Myth 43. Safety Rules Are for Safety Only

Myth 44. Golden Rules

Myth 45. ISO Certification Ensures Controlling Your Risks

Myth 46. Copy a Safety Program That Works

Myth 47. The More Safety Measures, the Better

Myth 48. Silver Bullets

Myth 49. The 1 : 29 : 300 Ratio

Myth 50. Heinrich’s Pyramid Is about Causation

Myth 51. Normal Accident Theory Is the Opposite of HRO

Myth 52. Observation Programs Create Safety

Myth 53. Safe and Unsafe Behaviour

Myth 54. Be Careful!

Myth 55. Mistakes Are Bad

Myth 56. Safety Is a Choice

Myth 57. Check/Study = Audit

Myth 58. Absolutes Make Great Audit Criteria

Myth 59. Disorder Is the Natural Enemy of Safety

Myth 60. Management of Change = Change Management?


IV: Culture

Myth 61. We Have Been Doing This for 30 Years

Myth 62. Safety Culture = Following Safety Rules

Myth 63. A Positive Mind-Set Is Necessary to Create Safety

Myth 64. Toilets Tell about Culture

Myth 65. Safety Culture Must be Changed

Myth 66. Culture Change Is a Top-Down Process

Myth 67. Safety Culture Certification

Myth 68. Safety Is Everybody’s Responsibility


V: Measuring Safety, Goals and Indicators

Myth 69. If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It

Myth 70. Safety First!

Myth 71. Injury Rates Tell How Well You Are Doing at Safety

Myth 72. Our Goal Must Be Zero!

Myth 73. No Zero Harm Goal? You Plan to Hurt People!

Myth 74. Incentive Schemes Improve Safety

Myth 75. One Needs Only Leading Indicators

Myth 76. Three Incidents?! We MUST Have Actions!

Myth 77. The More Data, the Better

Myth 78. Benchmarking Is Good for Safety

Myth 79. Red = Bad

Column: Zero Harm Is an Occupational Disease


VI: Incidents, Accidents and their Causes

Myth 80. All Accidents Are Preventable

Myth 81. ‘Acts of God’ Are No Accidents

Myth 82. Shit Happens?

Myth 83. People Are the Problem

Myth 84. The 88: 10: 2 Ratio

Myth 85. Heinrich’s Dominos? Really?

Myth 86. Accidents Happen Like a String Of Dominos Tumbling

Myth 87. Accident-prone, Anyone?

Myth 88. No Causes Needed for Corrective Action

Myth 89. The Accident Board Investigates. We Don’t Have To!

Myth 90. Incidents not Worth Reporting

Myth 91. Investigation until the Root Cause

Myth 92. Labelling Causes Is Useful

Myth 93. THE Cause

Myth 94. Management Causes

Myth 95. Non-Compliance Equals Cause

Myth 96. All Accidents Are Complex Non-linear Events

Myth 97. Could Have, Should Have…

Myth 98. We Can Only Learn from Things that Went Wrong

Myth 99. Causes, Conditions, Context and Confusion

Myth 100. Counting Causes Is Useful

Column: Five GREAT Reasons for Not Reporting Incidents


VII: Risk and Risk Assessment


Myth 101. Risk Must Be Eliminated

Myth 102. Risk Is only Probability and Consequence

Myth 103. Probability Is about Numbers

Myth 104. Risk and Uncertainty Are the Same

Myth 105. Probability Cannot Be Used for Security Events

Myth 106. Risk Is Determined Based on Objective Factors

Myth 107. Black Swans Are the Same as ‘Acts of God’

Myth 108. Worst Case Scenarios

Risk Assessment

Myth 109. Risk Assessments Can Be Done by Safety Pros Alone

Myth 110. Risk Assessments without Safety Professionals?

Myth 111. Risk Assessment Documents Are Huge Reports

Myth 112. Hazard Identification Is a Waste of Time

Myth 113. Only Our Imagination Limits…

Myth 114. Risk Assessments Are Time Consuming and Tedious

Myth 115. Risk Assessment by Checklist

Myth 116. Quantitative Risk Assessments Are so Much Better

Myth 117. Qualitative Assessments Are the Easy Way Out

Myth 118. Risk Acceptance Criteria

Myth 119. ALARP Is Only about Cost and Benefit

Myth 120. Multiplying Equals Quantitative Risk Assessment

Myth 121. Qualitative Risk Assessments Equal Risk Matrices

Myth 122. Risk Assessment and Decision Making

Myth 123. LMRA

Column: 12 Do’s for Risk Assessments


Back to the Safety Myth 101 main page.

Review from Health and Safety at Work

Review from NVVK Info 2016/04

Review by Greg Morse

Review from Tijdschrijft voor Toegepaste Arbowetenschappen

Review from Lusa-One by Anders Ellerstrand

Below a selection from the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the book:

“A book like this one should be on each manager desk. It will help implementing safety culture and in the same time managers will understand how important is safety and the benefits.”

“Gathering new ideas, and experience of implemented ideas. So much input is hidden inside.”

“Easy understandable for non-safety people.”

“Buy two copies! Give one to your boss and then get ready to finally let go of some of the Myths of Safety and actually start CREATING SAFETY! Well done, Carsten, well done!”

“I originally wanted to read just one myth a day, but I found hard to put down…”

“An impressive range of topics.”

“I like the way you write about safety: positively and recognizable. Safety can be a nice subject to write about!”

“A book that needed to be done for a while. It will get people thinking.”

“It’s written very clearly and easy to understand. No need to have studied safety to understand. A must for every Safety Professional’s bookshelf.”

“Very accessible, even for laypersons.”

“A must read (very much including the footnotes). Takes courageously on longstanding safety myths and traditions in a most convincing manner while somehow not becoming a scold. An important and highly readable contribution to the safety literature.”

“The many examples (often taken from everyday life, others from work situations) make things easy to understand.”

“This is going to shake up the safety business quite a bit! That's a good thing!”

“Easy to understand, even for those who don’t read English every day.”

“One of the most important Safety Management related books published in the last decade. This is a must read for everyone who sincerely wants to improve Safety and not waste their collective time doing what simply doesn’t work.” 

“The great examples bring the book to life.”

“Safety Myths 101 has become my new favourite book. It was heartening to see myths being busted.”

“A perfect if you need to find a subject to talk about in a professional setting.”

“Carsten effectively takes on many basic safety traditions (e.g. the accident pyramid, all accidents are preventable) and myths that are standing in the way of safety progress. Not a book for those who resist being provoked to think outside the lines of tradition.”

“Thank you for doing this!”

“This should be required reading for all Safety Professionals and those that ply their wares to the industry. A bit of balance to the desire to compartmentalise everything and slap on a label, perpetuating the illusion of control.”


Now available:


Dutch version: Veiligheidsfabels 1-2-3


CAUTION: Reading this book or parts thereof may

seriously harm your professional beliefs and habits


From the back cover:

The Safety Profession has a problem. Over the past decades, it has been a fertile feeding ground for Myths, Misconceptions and Misunderstandings.

Pyramids, dominos, ratios, certification, zeros, absolutes, rules, audits, positive mind-set, culture change, observation schemes, checklists, best practices, slogans, Safety First, errors, root causes and risk matrices. You name it and someone will probably have twisted it into something that it should not be, through mechanisms like: visions-turned-goals, tools out of context, black and white thinking, means-becoming-the-goal, rituals without proper understanding, correlation instead of causation or belief in Silver Bullets.

This book collects 123 (and then some) of these Safety Myths. Crisp and compact discussions address weaknesses of conventional safety ‘wisdom’ and give suggestions for alternative approaches and improvement.

The author mixes over two decades of professional experience, theory, practice, anecdotes, examples, and not in the last place humour, into a very readable and easy to understand different view on safety.

To see the contents and a quick overview, go to the Contents Page.

To see what others thought about the book, find a selection on the Feedback Page.

An Erratum is available that also includes many of the illustrations of the book in colour and larger size.
Download the Erratum here.


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