Andrew Townsend

Townsend‘Daniel – Worldwide, “construction” is vilified because it has so many accidents. The focus is on analysing every accident to find out what went wrong and then fix it. I believe that this is the wrong approach. Given that in construction people and hazards are in a state of constant motion and close proximity, the question should be ‘why do we have so few accidents?’

It was the first email I received through the contact form. It was from Andrew Townsend. The correspondence eventuated in Andrew writing a post for the website: You can have your cake and eat it, one of the most commented posts so far.

After that Andrew and I Skyped frequently. To share the frustrations of dealing with a world in which people are seen as the biggest danger to achieving safe outcomes, but also the joys of seeing some progress or possibilities to do safety differently. Andrew would typically call to enthusiastically explain some of his latest insights from crunching safety stats. Always clear minded and with an insatiable hunger to learn more and to see the world anew.

Having only a few productive hours per day (due to Parkinson’s disease) he nevertheless found time to put his thinking into a book – Safety can’t be measured: An Evidence-based Approach to Improving Risk Reduction.

In late September, only a couple of weeks after the official launch of his book, Andrew Townsend died at home as the result of a heart attack. A brilliant thinker, a beautiful voice, a humanist, and a fellow traveler in doing safety differently has left us. He is sorely missed.



  1. Rachel Lopez Reply

    I am saddened to hear of Andrew’s passing. I enjoyed the ‘meeting of minds’ in previous posts which moved me to engage in the conversation also. Despite leaving this world in a physical sense his thought provoking contribution to facilitate and engage with others in these discussions was clearly intrinsically driven by a value to embrace human life and human potential. He was humble, yet stood tall to when it came to empowering others to think critically and professionally – this is a great legacy.

  2. Lincoln Eldridge Reply

    The wonderful thing is that Andrew’s ideas and words live on, continuing to speak to all who are interested. I am reminded of the following quote from Carl Sagan

    “A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

    Clearly, Andrew worked some magic.

  3. Les Henley Reply

    Another great mind lost to the world.
    I enjoyed a number of ‘debates’ with Andrew via Safety Differently, and whilst we didn’t always see eye to eye he always listened and considered what I had to say. I’d like to think he contributed to my knowledge and understanding of our shared field too.
    Thankfully he left a legacy via his book. He happened to share a copy of his manuscript with me during the last phase of writing before final editing. He asked me to review it and comment.
    My primary comment was “Overall, I’m impressed. A really good read, and makes a lot of sense to me, though I did struggle to stay focussed and make sense on a couple of the ‘statistics’ chapters.”
    I shall cherish my copy of his manuscript in his memory. And I’ll miss ‘crossing swords’ with him in the future.

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