UL Safety Index™ takes a deep dive into safety data
Reducing unintended injuries in Thailand the focus
To Underwriters Laboratories’ Director of Data Science, David Wroth, data isn’t just about measurements and numbers. Data is about safety. And at the UL Safety Index™ Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand, on Nov. 8, 2018, he demonstrated his point with information about how data can lead to insight and action.
Wroth highlighted how the Index, which takes into account more than 22,000 data points gathered from reliable organizations — including the World Bank, United Nations and World Health Organization — can be used to reduce unintentional injuries within Thailand.
“The UL Safety Index is an algorithm-based data science project that aims to provide people with the information they need to improve their safety,” he said. “It quantifies the relative safety of living and working environments for people around the world. We took on the project because UL believes that by increasing the awareness of safety, we can enter into meaningful discussions with key stakeholders and develop solutions to improve safety around the world.”
Many factors contribute to score
Scores on the Index range from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest safety rating. Thailand’s 2018 score was a 69. To put this into perspective, Norway scored a 92, the highest, and Somalia scored a 19. These scores are the result of a number of factors including interactions between people and hazards (such as electricity and machinery), socioeconomic circumstances, labor protections, codes and standards, and road safety practices and regulations.
Three specific drivers – Institutions and Resources, Safety Frameworks, and Safety Outcomes – are combined into the UL Safety Index. Direct measurements for injury, disability and death due to preventable causes are also included as the ultimate measure of safety is freedom from harm.
“One thing that most people note is that, in every region, there is a wide variation of the Index,” Wroth said. “This indicates there are opportunities for collaboration with neighboring countries to share best practices and learn effective solutions.”
Transportation and water hazards
Using these results, Wroth spoke about injuries and deaths stemming from transport accidents and drowning in Thailand and what can be drawn from this information. The Index reveals the key takeaways for transportation injuries include: the majority of victims are between 15 and 49 years old; disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and deaths per 100,000 people have been stable over time; 46 percent of injuries involve a motorcyclist; and stricter enforcement of traffic laws may improve safety outcomes.
Likewise the key takeaways from the information regarding drowning in Thailand are: the majority of victims are 5 years old or younger but great progress has been made toward reducing the number of Thai children who drown each year.
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) working group
Also at the summit, the OSH working group, led by UL Data Science Research Manager Andrew Kapp, developed perspectives on issues impacting OSH in Thailand and identified ways to bring about positive change. Representatives of the Thai Institute of OSH, the Thai Ministry of Labour, the Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, and multiple academic institutions were included in the working group.
The group quickly recognized two challenges: the lack of technical knowledge of OSH inspectors within the Thai Department of Industrial Works that results in reduced inspection quality, and the reluctance of Thai businesses to accept third-party inspections. These items show that for many Thai businesses, safety simply isn’t a priority.
Proposed solutions include on-the-job training, a mentoring program for inspectors and long-distance education. Each of these solutions presents challenges including conflicts with internal schedules and the investment of resources. Despite this, the OSH working group agreed to advance the conversation beyond the Summit. The next meeting date for the OSH working group isn’t set, but there are plans to identify and engage senior levels of the Department of Industrial Works to participate and provide insight.
Visit ULSafetyIndex.org for more
For more information or to see results from the UL Safety index for yourself, visit ULSafetyIndex.org. Available resources include case studies, peer-reviewed research, and toolkits for implementing regulatory measures to improve safety.
“The site allows users to explore the values of the index for countries around the world, compare countries and the indicators that make up the index, and access resources that assist with understanding what others are doing to address safety challenges,” Wroth said.
With the UL Safety Index’s science-based model and algorithm, UL aims to stimulate dialog and facilitate sharing safety programs. This summit was a step toward partnering with the Thai government, safety advocates and others to drive safety improvements within Thailand.
January 11, 2019