Urban Kjellén, Eirik Albrechtsen, CRC Press (, £108 hardback, £75.60 e-book (2nd edition)

Prevention of Accidents and Unwanted Occurrences

Norwegian safety experts Urban Kjellén and Eirik Albrechtsen offer a well researched and comprehensive guide to how accidents happen, how they can most easily be prevented, and how organisations can best use incident information – both to monitor their safety performance and to shape safety and health policy.

CRC Press



Kjellén, principal adviser at national power company Statkraft in Oslo, and Albrechtsen, associate professor at Trondheim’s Science and Technology University, have organised their 500-plus page volume into six sections.

The first, the introduction, includes a case study on limiting air pollution from a fertiliser plant. Section 2 explores the theoretical basis of accident causation and prevention, and includes a chapter devoted to the “human element in accident control”. While section 3 covers learning from incidents, section 4 concentrates on monitoring: its five chapters explore different aspects of performance indicators. This section includes loss-based, process-based and causal factor-based indicators as well as an overview – and guidance on selecting the best performance measures. Section 5’s chapters focus on risk assessment, with specific sections on job safety analysis and machinery risk assessment.

They include a worthwhile topic I have never seen covered in any other safety textbook: how to carry out statistical analysis of incident data so as to check the reliability of risk assessment.

The final section (“Putting the pieces together”) brings together all the book’s lines of thought and relates them to real examples. As you might expect, industries that are especially important to Norway (such as hydropower and oil/gas extraction) dominate, but the underlying messages about what are the most effective control measures are internationally relevant. The end section features appendices (definitions, checklists and questionnaires) and a full bibliography, as well as a comprehensive index.

This work sets out its stall as being both a practical guide and a scientific book. This is a pretty tall order but the authors deliver on their promise. There’s too much dwelling on the theory for it to be an easy read but nor is it a simplistic “just follow these seven steps” approach. The theory is always linked to practice and there are enough examples and case studies to keep the text rooted in the real world. It’s aimed at a broad readership (safety professionals, insurers, regulators, researchers and students) and all of these groups will find material that’s new and interesting. It’s probably best seen as a book to refer to rather than to read from cover to cover: it’s a heavyweight tome with a price tag to match – more than justified though by the breadth and depth of material included.

CRC Press (


Paul Smith’s career spans enforcement, consultancy and the power industry. A former Health and Safety Executive inspector, he’s now a specialist writer on safety and health topics.

Type : 
Topic :  
Sector : 

Add new comment