It was with some trepidation that I prepared to review this sizeable tome – it runs to more than 500 pages – but I need not have worried. The book is laid out in four clear sections.
The first sets out the fundamentals of risk management, looking at key elements such as risk assessment and control, causal analysis and pattern recognition, management systems, and communication and training. This section helpfully points out legislative obligations (from the UK) and is a sound resource to help to frame a robust approach to managing workplace risk.
Next Boyle explores the human factors involved in risk management. Opening with a fascinating introduction to sensory perception – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – it then bounds into a broad coverage of the psychology of work, covering attitudes, beliefs, motivation, personality and intelligence, with some excellent discussion of stress and fatigue, before an instructive look at human interaction with the work environment.
But it’s what follows that really interests me. It’s as if the book begins again – first by looking at risk management, then human factors. Is this Groundhog Day? No, it’s much better as Boyle dives deeper into the two topics he has introduced.
The first part of the second half covers advanced risk management. Management systems, the measurement of performance, advanced accident investigation techniques (such as events and causal factors analyses), management oversight and risk tree (MORT) are all considered, as are detailed risk assessment tools and control techniques, including hazard and operability study, failure modes and effects analysis, and fault-tree analysis.
An interesting discussion on performance follows, taking the reader on a tour of statistical analysis, probability and the calculation of accident rates.
The concluding section takes us through systems thinking and a solid, though slightly too brief, essay on safety culture. Emergency planning, cost benefit analysis, motivation theories and human error all get a look-in too.
This book has matured very well over its four editions. The writing style is clear and concise, the content comprehensive. It is also well referenced, filled with helpful figures, diagrams and tables and its interesting layout provides four books in one.
Boyle’s book would make an excellent study text for people engaged in any safety and health study programme and offers a reliable reference for everyone else.