Episode Summary

Today, we begin a three-parter on the full story behind the book Safety I and Safety II: The Past and Future of Safety Management.

Episode Notes

For this episode, we are breaking away from the standard formula for this show. We thought it best to split this topic into three episodes, as we don’t want to oversimplify our breakdown of this seminal, two-hundred page book. 

We encourage all of our listeners to follow along and read the book with us. Join us as we dig into this influential book by Erik Hollnagel.


  • Interpretations of new theories.
  • Hollnagel being the direct intellectual descendant of Professor Rasmussen.
  • Chapter 1: The Issues.
  • The denominator problem.
  • The regulator paradox.
  • The problems with defining safety.
  • Overall thoughts on Chapter 1.
  • What to skim and what to read closely.


“Most theories are billed as critiques of other theories. So, any new theory implicitly, and usually, explicitly criticizes a lot of existing stuff. And it’s important to separate those two things out.”

“He says that success and failure are not opposites.”

“It means that every single data point, then, has a lot of uncertainty attached around to it, because they’re such isolated examples, such extraordinary events…”


Safety I and Safety II: The Past and Future of Safety Management