The need for safety analysis has grown in the fields of nuclear industry, civil and military aviation and space technology where the potential for accidents with far-reaching consequences for employees, the public and the environment is most apparent. Later the use of safety analysis has spread widely to other industrial branches. General systems theory, accident theories and scientific management represent domains that have influenced the development of safety analysis. These relations are shortly presented and the common methods employed in safety analysis are described and structured according to the aim of the search and to the search strategy. A framework for the evaluation of the coverage of the search procedures employed in different methods of safety analysis is presented. The framework is then used in an heuristic and in an empiric evaluation of hazard and operability study (HAZOP), work safety analysis (WSA), action error analysis (AEA) and management oversight and risk tree (MORT). Finally, some recommendations on the use of safety analysis for preventing accidents are presented.