Recommended Books for Safety Professionals for Personal Growth and Career Success

This is not an exhaustive list of all the books out there that a person in a health and safety role would benefit from reading. You will notice that all of these books are not directly related to workplace safety.

At the bottom of this post, there are traditional safety books.

It is important to read about other subjects that help you grow as an individual as well as understand how other people think and the things in the world around you work.

recommended books for safety professionals

Reading for Development Versus Memorizing Safety Facts

Knowing every single OSHA standard is worthless if you cannot communicate to other people or come up with solutions to address issues in the workplace. How you think is more important than what you know. This fact is especially true if you want to work in the safety field. These books will help expand your perspective on important subjects that affect the world around you.

This list of recommended books will continue to grow so check back! They are not in any particular order.

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Book Recommendations for Safety Pros

1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Overview

Outliers is fascinating in the way that the book dives into why some people are so successful. The tried and true methods such as hard work and perseverance are upheld in the book as part of the process, but the author Malcolm Gladwell also looks into the world around the person, what was happening in society, and opportunities afforded to certain generations.

Gladwell uses many different examples of successful people and the domino-like effect of what had to occur for them to have the opportunities they did to be able to achieve their successes.

Personal Growth Takeaways

The book can be sort of downer if you choose to look at the fact that success does indeed rely on other factors than just plain old hard work. Bill Gates for example experienced many unique opportunities when growing up (not to mention when he was born in general) that had a direct effect on the level of success he achieved.

That being said, everyone reading this post is alive at an extraordinary time. With access to information and the tools at our disposal, we are less dependent than past generations to be able to achieve what we want to achieve.

Takeaways for Safety Professionals

One section of the book actually looked at safety mishaps of Korean Air that resulted in multiple crashes. Gladwell drilled down and discussed how culture played a role in how copilots and pilots interacted with one another.

Due to the fact that hierarchy and leadership were highly regarded in their culture, copilots would rarely speak up when there was an issue- even when their life depended on it. If they did speak up it was often “mitigated speech”, which did not convey the seriousness of the situation.

2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Book Overview

The Power of Habit is a fascinating read behind the science of habits. Habits are everything when it comes to human behavior. Duhigg does an incredible job of describing how habits affect our lives, the subparts of what makes up a habit, and most importantly- how to change habits.

The studies focused on habits as well as the stories he uses are both powerful and surprising.

Personal Growth Takeaways

Habits control our entire lives. Think about your actions today. How many of the actions you took, from hitting the snooze button to what you did when you turned your laptop on, are daily reoccurring actions?

If you have one or many bad habits, this book is perfect for you to really understand the process of how a habit is formed to try to make a positive change that will stick.

Takeaways for Safety Professionals

Duhigg often refers back to a concept called a “keystone habit” throughout the book. A keystone habit is a habit that can spark changes in other areas of life. One keystone habit that studies have shown to have a major impact on an individual’s life is consistently exercising.

It was found that individuals who started exercising showed positive changes in other areas of their life such as improved diet, less alcohol consumption, less stress, and increased productivity at work.

This idea of keystone habits was described in a story Duhigg shares in the book about when Paul O’Neill become the CEO of (a then failing) Alcoa in 1987 (the aluminum manufacturing giant). In his first speech to investors, he discussed how he was going to focus on workplace safety as CEO.

As you can imagine investors were not happy to hear this when Alcoa’s stocks were already way down.

Duhigg explains in the book how O’Neill’s sole focus on improving workplace safety served as a keystone habit that improved many other areas of the business. Communication, morale, quality, etc. all improved thanks to his focus on safety. It is a concept that makes sense, but many people did not see how focusing on safety would turn the business around.

In just one year after O’Neill delivered his speech, Alcoa’s profits reached record highs. When he retired 13 years later, Alcoa’s annual net income was five times higher than when he started.

3. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Book Review

There seems to be a lot of critics of this book, but there are many more individuals who have come to love it and the principles behind it. Ferriss shares his own story of building and running a multimillion-dollar business, which most people dream of doing, but it became his nightmare.

He was married to his business and was constantly putting out one fire and going to the next.

In the book he talked about the changes he made to have a business that runs on autopilot and created cash flow, freeing him to pursue other interests including traveling to other countries for long periods of time.

More importantly, Ferriss completely redefines old thought processes about work, time, and money for the reader. He delivers new paradigms to view the world through and actionable steps to make what you previously thought impossible, possible.

Personal Growth Takeaways

This book is for anyone who is interested in escaping the necessity of having a 9 to 5. The principles laid out in the 4-Hour Work Week allow the reader to approach time and money from an entirely new angle that they may not even know existed.

Ferriss discusses concrete business models and actionable items to complete for the reader to find their own slice of freedom if they choose to put in the work. The book can truly be eye-opening into what you thought was possible to earn a living.

Takeaways for Safety Professionals

Out of all the books that will make it on this list this may be one of the more far-reaching books to tie to the safety occupation. That being said, there are many principles and ideas presented in the book that can help safety pros in streamlining their day-to-day obligations at work.

Much of the book is dedicated to being more efficient and delegating responsibilities in order to free up time. Safety professionals that find themselves constantly putting out fires may find value in some of the ideas presented in the book to save time and energy to be more efficient. The book is worth the read.

4. Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Book Review

If you know Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee for short) you either love him or you hate him. I fall under the love category. Gary Vaynerchuk came into the public eye after using online marketing and social media to grow his family’s wine business from $4 million dollars in revenue to $60 million dollars in just a few years before it was the normal route to go.

He also owns a successful digital media agency worth over $150 million dollars and was an early investor in businesses like Facebook and Uber. The list goes on and on. Anyways, now to the book.

This book is a follow-up to his book “Crush It!” which was all about turning your passion into a profession to live the life you want to live. In Crushing It! he highlights individuals who have made the transition from a 9 to 5 to working for themselves through following their passion (and a hell of a lot of hard work).

The book also gives updated tactical advice on using the hot social media platforms as well as ones that are up and coming.

Personal Growth Takeaways

Gary’s advice and wisdom is a significant reason why this website exists. He really gives you the blueprint of the mindset and what it takes to build a successful online presence or just a life of work you enjoy doing. This book, like all of his content, is filled with reminders of how blessed we are to live in this digital age.

He provides guidance that the road to a life filled with completing work you love doing requires perseverance, hard work, hustle, gratitude, patience, and self-awareness.

Takeaways for Safety Professionals

I may have lied when I said that the 4 Hour Work Week is the most far-reaching book on this list for safety professionals. At first glance, this book does not seem like safety pros can really learn much at all from it. That is not the case.

Gary’s principles mentioned above paired with his idea of giving more than you expect to receive can carry over to any aspect of life- including working in the safety field. It is a good reminder that the information and tools that are needed to achieve what we want to achieve are out there; if we decide to use them.

5. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Book Overview

Out of the books I have reviewed so far, Linchpin is probably the most important read for safety professionals. Seth Godin, who has published many amazing books, dives into how to avoid being another cog in the wheel and instead become a Linchpin. By becoming a Linchpin you are not easily replaceable in the organization you are working in.

He describes how to become a Linchpin by explaining the concept of delivering your own unique “art”. And no “art” is not just limited to paintings or drawings. Godin refers to art is our work and how we carry ourselves in life in general.

Personal Growth Takeaways

Seth Godin continually hammers the point home that we all have “art” to give. By giving ourselves permission to experiment, produce, and sometimes fail, we can stand out from the crowd. Standing out from the crowd by giving your art helps and empowers those individuals who receive it.

By doing anything less is not only an injustice to you but everyone else you can affect in a positive manner through the gift of your art.

Takeaways for Safety Professionals

In this article I wrote for I mention how much every single industry is changing dramatically. The only way to guarantee yourself a job in the future is to become a Linchpin. Being a “cog” as Godin would say may work for a short time, but it will not get you anywhere and when the going gets tough in the job market you will find yourself without a position if you are not indispensable.

More Books Will be Added to this Post!

Check back to see what other books make the list. The next books to be added : Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio and Getting Things Done by David Allen.

If you are looking for more general safety resource books, please see the list below.

OSHA and Other Workplace Safety Books

Are you looking for more traditional safety books? Below are some great resources that every safety pro should have on their bookshelf.

1 – Safety and Health for Engineers

This book by Roger Brauer is a comprehensive resource that covers a wide variety of topics. I purchased this book to study for the ASP and CSP certifications. I decided to keep the book after I passed both exams since it was such a great resource.

2 – Occupational Health and Safety for the 21st Century

Similar to the book above, this book written by Robert H Friis is another comprehensive safety resource.

3 – CSP Comprehensive Practice Exam Secrets Study Guide

This study guide series published by Mometrix is a great resource for any of the BCSP certifications. While it is not as comprehensive as some of the other study guides on the market, these books are far less expensive. I used the CHST study guide book when I earned the CHST designation.

4 – Basics of Industrial Hygiene

This book by Debra Nims covers many of the vital safety topics for professionals who need to have an understanding of industrial hygiene information. I used this book in college and I found it very easy to follow along. It is a great book to refer back to when needed.


While it is vital to be competent in your role as a safety professional, your success largely hinges on developing your soft skills and enhancing your perspective. Do not spend so much time reading to retain statistics and regulations when you can simply look them up when needed.

Google does a better job at remembering every OSHA regulation and the BLS will always remember the latest injury statistics.

You are a human in a human role trying to motivate other humans to do the right thing when it comes to safety. Learn skills that you can apply across a variety of situations and positions.

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