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IMPROVING safety is a complex challenge, incorporating elements of science, behaviour and culture, policy, and public health. The concept of identifying and mitigating hazards at the incident level is easy to understand. However, the resources, policies and priorities needed to improve safety in our homes, places of work, communities and society are more difficult to identify and activate.

Unintentional injuries are caused by the interaction of people and hazards in the environment.  Safety improves when mitigation strategies are put in place. These strategies include education, and establishing, implementing and enforcing safety standards, laws and regulations for consumer and labour protection.

At UL, we have a comprehensive view of the concept of safety. We believe that the interaction between people and hazards, amplified or mitigated by resources, infrastructure, behaviour, safety frameworks, and culture enables a safe environment. Socio-economic factors, policies, and programmes established as systems (not in isolation) are crucial elements that create better safety outcomes.

The UL Safety Index

The UL Safety Index quantifies the relative state of safety in 187 countries. Based on societal drivers and outcomes related to unintentional injury, the UL Safety Index measures the contributions of national resources and institutions, safety systems and frameworks, and safety outcomes.

The UL Safety Index can be used to support efforts by governments, safety professionals, policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations to understand and prioritise actions to improve safety around the world. Since the inaugural study launched in 2016, academic leaders and practitioners in safety have provided input, resulting in improvements to the algorithm, a new indicator, and updated data.

These contributions help drive a more comprehensive dialogue about safety issues. Additionally, working with policymakers, advocates and stakeholders, we can better identify priorities for investments in programmes and policies to improve safety.

Each of the 187 countries studied receives an overall Safety Index assessment between 0-100. The Index assesses countries on three measurable drivers of safety: Institutions and Resources; Safety Framework; and Safety Outcomes.

The UL Safety Index is computed as the geometric mean of the three key drivers of safety – Institutions & Resources, Safety Frameworks, and Safety Outcomes. The following equation illustrates the relationship between these Drivers:

How Did Southeast Asian Countries Score In 2017?

The 11 countries of Southeast Asia can be divided into three groups, based on the Index values and scores:

  • High (80-100): Singapore
  • Mid (50-79): Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brunei
  • Low (below 50): Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, and Laos.

Countries that achieved mid to high scores are significantly safer than others in the region and have made significant development progress in the past few decades through economic and government reforms. Laos, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Cambodia all have below average scores for GDP per capita, Education and Government Effectiveness. These remain challenges in these countries.

Key Indicators “Government Effectiveness” And “Technology” Crucial To Safety

Singapore ranked as the 12th safest country in the global Index. The country has the highest GDP per capita in the region. Compared with the top five countries in the Index – the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Sweden and Canada – Singapore scores lower for Education (83). The Top five countries all had strong scores for Education (89-100).

The top five countries and Singapore all achieved the maximum score (100) in the ‘Codes and Standards’ indicator, demonstrating high levels of participation and engagement in national, regional and global codes and standards development. Building and life safety, fire, and electrical codes are adopted at the national or state level. There were two indicators in which Singapore scored full points (100), but none of the top five countries did, Government Effectiveness and Technology.

While the population of many industrialised countries begins to age, Southeast Asia’s population is predicted to grow faster than the global average. The region boasts some of the world’s fastest growing economies with Vietnam and Philippines growing by six percent a year.  According to the World Economic Forum, the region is set to become the world’s fifth largest economy with a combined population of 620 million and an economy of $2.6 trillion. It is fair to assume that countries that have achieved economic success and can sustain economic growth over time can improve their living standards.

The Importance Of Government In Driving Safety

Governments can play a significant role in reducing unintentional injuries. Laws, Regulations and Standards all help to codify societal norms for risk and safety. A government’s effectiveness in promoting safety is correlated to its ability to recognise the need for intervention, enacting appropriate safety frameworks, and enforcing legal and other societal protections.

The use of technology to capture and analyse data, identify and communicate hazards, and assess the effectiveness of safety improvement efforts is also influential in increasing general awareness of safety hazards. Government intervention, coupled with the use of technology to identify and mitigate risks, is an effective strategy to create a safe environment.

By Anthony Tan, Vice President & Managing Director, UL ASEAN.

 

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