This is one of the books in the bibliography of Heinrich’s 1931 version of Industrial Accident Prevention. My main focus in this discussion/summary is an attempt to distil the main threads from this book and to a make a comparison to Heinrich’s book, and - in a later phase - to the other safety handbooks that came out around the same time.

Sidney J. Williams was an engineer with 20 years of experience as an industry executive, from the Winconsin Industrial Commission, formerly chief engineer with the National Safety Council, and at the time of publishing the book Director of the Public Safety Division of the NSC. (The latter is probably the reason for the final chapter in the book that deals with Public Safety, somewhat an odd one out in this book).

The first thing that stands out is Williams’ audience. This “manual attempts to set forth the essential information needed by a man who devotes all or part of his time to industrial safety.” (p.iii) This is a clear contrast to Heinrich, who sees management as his prime audience, and others (safety engineers, students, foremen) only after these.

Another interesting aspect is that Williams draws on several of his contemporaries. Each of the rather short chapters is followed by a short list of references, which are often NSC standards or publications, but he also cites the work of DeBlois (on multiple occasions), Boyd Fisher (Mental Causes of Accidents), Beyer, and also Heinrich whose work on indirect costs of accidents had just been published.

The main focus of the book is clearly on the organisation of safety (we would probably call it safety management), rather than on safe guarding. In contrary to other safety handbooks, Williams did not include pictures and photographs with examples of hazards or guarding. Still, Chapters 12 to 16, and 18 and 19 are rather detailed discussions of hazards and remedies. There for example a chapter (15) on personal protective equipment, a subject which Heinrich would not touch explicitly before 1950.

While Williams claims to discuss basic principles (just as Heinrich does), the book is for the greater part very much of a how-to book of Safety Organisation (strongly drawing on DeBlois) that discusses for example committee work, inspections (given the shortness of most chapters it is surprising that Williams spends several pages on an inspection list), safety meetings and how to conduct a safety campaign.

Some other similarities between Williams and Heinrich:

Some significant differences:

One final thing that stood out while reading - I have never read a safety book where so often is mentioned that the safety professional shall be a “friend” or be “friendly” or “friendly assist”. I agree with the general idea, but after a certain number of pages it grated on my nerve. But hey, that’s just me.


Williams, S.J. (1927) The Manual of Industrial Safety. Chicago & New York: A.W. Shaw Company.

At this moment no digital version appears to be available online, and getting an original copy is next to impossible...