26 No. 1
the Practice of Safety, Third Edition
Wiley Interscience, Hoboken, NJ, 2003
by John Duffus
book is already well established through its previous editions
as a classic text for baccalaureate and master’s degree
safety programs. However, I come to it as someone who has
never read it before and so can review it as though I were
a new student to whom it had been recommended. My first impression
was of a textbook that looked dated in layout and, when compared
with most modern textbooks, was not very welcoming. This is
a pity because the book is a distillation of many years of
experience by the author, thoughtfully reviewed and carefully
analyzed. Many of his statements remain in the mind after
reading: “safety is culture driven,” “finance
is the language of management,” and “safety is
freedom from unacceptable risk.”
my personal point of view as a toxicologist, I find it difficult
to understand how a book on safety can define a curriculum
for the safety professional (Chapter 5), which omits toxicology.
In fact, I don’t think the subject is mentioned anywhere
in the book. This is particularly surprising in a book which
considers risk assessment and management very thoroughly.
Assessing risk of chemical exposure is often a major part
of the risk assessment process.
spite of the above reservation, I think that some parts of
this book could well be prescribed as compulsory reading for
safety professionals. Chapter 17, “Guidelines: Designing
for Safety,” and Chapter 18, “System Safety: the
Concept,” fall into this category. The relationship
of “quality management” to “safety practice”
is another important concept developed here.
Although I found this book, as one might expect, very much
based on practice in the USA, I was pleased to find attention
drawn to the ILO/OSH Guidelines on Occupational Safety and
Health Management, which are available on the Web for download
final discussion of the nature of a safety audit and the guiding
thoughts derived by the author from his lifetime experience
again should be essential reading for all those concerned
started to read this book with a little reluctance because
its layout and appearance were somewhat off putting, I finished
reading it with an admiration for the way in which the author
had distilled wisdom from his lifetime involvement in practical
safety management. This is a book to be read now for its educational
value and also to be kept on the shelf for easy future reference.
If only it said a bit more about my own area of expertise
in toxicology, I should have little to find wrong with it!
last modified 8 January 2004.
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