Reviewing Heinrich Dislodging Two Myths From the Practice of Safety
By Fred A. Manuele
• This article identifies two myths derived from the work of H.W. Heinrich
that should be dislodged from the practice of safety: 1) unsafe acts of workers
are the principal causes of occupational accidents; and 2) reducing accident
requency will equivalently reduce severe injuries.
• As knowledge has evolved about how accidents occur and their causal
factors, the emphasis is now correctly placed on improving the work system,
rather than on worker behavior. Heinrich’s premises are not compatible with
• A call is issued to safety professionals to stop using and promoting these
premises; to dispel these premises in presentations, writings and discussions;
and to apply current methods that look beyond Heinrich’s myths to determine
true causal factors of incidents.