The July 2014 of the magazine of the Dutch Society for Safety Science featured my review of Alan Quilley's four books:

Find the translation below:

More Creating And Maintaining A Practical Based Safety Culture - Turning Intention Into Action, by Alan D. Quilley

A couple of years ago I discovered the various forums and groups on Linkedin and started using these actively. This meant an enrichment of the professional network that is highly recommendable - in no time I gained valuable contacts in places where I physically wouldn’t come easily or frequently (Florida, Canada, Australia, to name just a few), and have had engaging professional discussions about both recent and fundamental subjects.


One of the most visible (and funny!) persons active in various forums (especially EHSQ Elite) is Alan D. Quilley, a Canadian safety professional with by now three decades of experience in various branches and functions on his CV. His workshops and courses must be an experience: how many safety professionals do you know that bring a guitar to a workshop?

So far Alan has already written four books. Recently his newest booklet (a modest 111 pages long) was published: “MORE Creating and Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture”. A good opportunity to check out Alan’s oeuvre.


It shouldn’t be a surprise that “MORE Creating and Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture” is the sequel of “Creating and Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture” from 2010 (165 pages). Both booklets are of the kind that makes me wish that I had written them, and then I’m talking about the contents and not “Da Vinci Code”-like royalties of course.

The structure of both booklets is alike with short chapters (generally 2 to 3 pages - the chapters longer than 5 pages can be counted on one hand) about a certain subject and the chapters again are clustered in certain themes (for example about ‘methods and tools’). Each subject is briefly and clearly discussed. This makes both booklets excellent reference material, for both experienced safety professionals, as for newcomers or laymen, like managers of employees. With regard to a target group there is something for everyone: parts of the booklets can be seen as a do-book for ‘safety management in a few simple steps’ (although Alan cautions that this is no one-size-fits-all receipt that can be implemented blindly) while other chapters mainly address safety professionals in a rather light mannered way, like “You Might Be A Safety Geek If...” (from the first book) or “The Truth Behind Some Safety Myths” and “Be Careful Of The Snake Oil Salesman” (both from the newest book).

Light hearted

The tone is generally light hearted, although the subject safety is a serious one. This is a deliberate choice. The foreword of “MORE Creating and Maintaining...” states that it’s very well possible to learn while we are smiling. The aim is thus to present the principles of safety management as easy and edutainment-like as possible. This in contrast to much other dry, academic and difficult accessible professional literature in safety. That makes both booklets to recommended material for those who are reluctant to start reading professional literature in English (after all that is the main language in most cases): these are definitely easy to grasp and get into.

A rather random choice from the subject from both compact books (which, by the way, have some minor overlap because t was chosen to update a number of subjects): “Top Ten Mistakes We Can Make While Managing OH&S” (like doing safety “for the regulator”), safety rules (under the interesting title “Stupid Safety Rules!”), the ABCs of human behaviour (Activators, Behaviour, Consequences), a primer in risk (the interplay of probability, consequence and exposure) and the combination of safety and production (so safety will not come as Number 1, but safe production should be Number 1). One important chapter that any serious safety professional never must forget: “Be A Life Long Student”.

In short, two booklets that I can recommend having on the bookshelf and pick up regularly or to refer to in case of questions.


From 2011 is “How To Hold GREAT Safety Meetings” with its hilarious subtitle “These Meetings Don’t Suck Anymore”. That subtitle at the same time highlights the book’s aim: in his day to day practice Alan has often heard and experiences that many safety meetings aren’t exactly the most interesting or inspiring gatherings. Which is a shame, because the opposite is quite easy to achieve.

Alan tries in this even more compact booklet (64 pages) giving directions how to do so by following a few simple steps (which are applicable to more or less any kind of meeting, by the way). In the appendices he also comes with a number of suggestions for useful subjects and activities during safety meetings, like the discussion of critical tasks or the analysis of possible hazards by “incident imaging”.

Main threads

Alan’s masterpiece so far is “The Emperor Has No Hard Hat: Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results”. It’s a relative voluminous piece (over 370 pages) and yet extremely accessible. The structure of the book is unique within safety. There are basically two main threads that run through the book and take turns. The first main thread tells the story of a fictional Roman company, the Imperial Chariot & Lyre Corporation. This company has safety problems, as evidenced by a number of recent accidents, and there are challenges (putting things mildly) with regard to management as well. In the course of the story the company’s new safety professional has to try to change this situation and save the top manager’s (the Emperor form the title) day.

The various, at times hilarious, situations in this fictional company (enhanced by cartoons and illustrations) serve as a backdrop to explain serious safety principles. Which brings us to the other main thread: this book is actually a text book in safety management and a rather thorough text book at that with clear explanations and examples. Maybe it’s a good moment to mention that Alan Quilley is one of the teachers for the Canadian equivalent of the Dutch HVK. But beware: this book is thorough without getting dry, boring or longwinded. This makes the book also very suited for managers (and others) to learn about safety management in a relatively light hearted way.

There is some overlap with themes discussed in the two thinner books, but there is more room for elaboration and explanation here. A small selection: there is an introduction to integrated management systems; a brief history of occupational safety and health; safety management; safety and behaviour; change; accountability; safety culture and of course plenty of attention for the toolbox where we find incident investigation, observations and risk assessment. Summarizing: a ‘safe’ recommendation.

These books are a.o. at order from


The Emperor Has No Hard Hat: Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results

ISBN 0-9737485-0-8

Creating & Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture

ISBN 978-0-9737485-1-2

How to Hold GREAT Safety Meetings – These meetings don't suck anymore!

ISBN 978-0-9737485-5-0

More Creating And Maintaining A Practical Based Safety Culture - Turning Intention Into Action

ISBN 978-0-9737485-6-7