In many knowledge representation formalisms, a constructive semantics is defined based on sequential applications of rules or of a semantic operator. These constructions often share the property that rule applications must be delayed until it is safe to do so: until it is known that the condition that triggers the rule will continue to hold. This intuition occurs for instance in the well-founded semantics of logic programs and in autoepistemic logic. In this paper, we formally define the safety criterion algebraically. We study properties of so-called safe inductions and apply our theory to logic programming and autoepistemic logic. For the latter, we show that safe inductions manage to capture the intended meaning of a class of theories on which all classical constructive semantics fail.