By David Wroth
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM – Keeping people safe is one of society’s most important responsibilities. Safety is about the commitment to doing the right things to protect people, families and communities whether they are in public, on the roads, at work or simply going about their daily lives at home.
Each year, our organization conducts a global analysis of safety performance, and as a result we have a good indicator of which countries are the best at keeping their citizens safe, which are the most challenged, and which are making progress or falling behind.
The UL Safety Index™ is based on data-science and algorithms, and it is designed to help policy makers, leaders and civic organizations make decisions that will help keep their citizens safe. The type of safety we focus on measuring is preventable. This would include any type of unintentional accident but excludes injuries or deaths related to disease, crime or violence.
In Vietnam, we are pleased to report that safety on a national level is improving, and the country now ranks amongst the middle tier of Southeast Asian nations for safety performance. Safety doesn’t happen by accident, and this is clearly the case in Vietnam, where policy makers and leaders have taken multi-faceted steps to improve the country’s overall safety performance.
According to our 2017 UL Safety Index, Vietnam’s Safety Index score is 66 (on a scale of 0-100) and ranks fifth amongst the 11 countries in Southeast Asia. This marks an improvement for Vietnam of four points, up from 62 a year ago.
How did Vietnam get better with safety performance?
In the weeks ahead, as we formally launch the UL Safety Index in Vietnam, we will share specifics about what Vietnam has done very well at, and also highlight areas in which Vietnam can do better to further improve safety performance.
In general, the UL Safety Index points to a few indicators that Vietnam has improved upon. Firstly, Vietnam’s strong progress in upgrading its educational institutions has positively impacted the country’s overall safety landscape. As education is a key driver of safety awareness, the level of safety in the country has also improved alongside heightened education levels. Efforts by the Vietnamese government to improve education, such as the recent Higher Education Renovation Project to upgrade the education system and competitiveness, have contributed to this accomplishment.
Economic growth also drives improvements in safety. As one of fastest-growing economies in the world, Vietnam has more potential and resources to make investments in robust infrastructure and programs to keep people safe. Economic growth also empowers Vietnamese citizens with greater ability and opportunities to buy higher quality and safer products.
While there has been great progress made in Vietnam’s safety performance, there are also some areas for improvement for the country. Road safety remains a well-publicized source of serious injury and death in Vietnam, and taking strong measures to reduce the rates of drink-driving would be a good initial step to improve traffic safety. Another area of needed improvement in Vietnam is water safety. Vietnam ranks in the lower tier for drowning deaths in Southeast Asia, and there are intervention programs from countries such as Japan and Korea that could be applied to reduce these numbers. In addition, Vietnam has a high incidence of injuries and deaths caused by falls, which may be attributed to the country’s aging population. Better support for older citizens will help to reduce these figures.
Overall, people in Vietnam are living safer lives. Vietnam may not yet be as safe as countries at the top of the Index, such as Norway, the Netherlands, and in Asia Pacific, Australia and Singapore, but it is far safer than countries at the bottom tier of the Index.
The best evidence for Vietnam’s growing capacity for safety is the increased life expectancy of its citizens, which has risen from 70 years in 1990 to 76 years today. While there is still much for Vietnam to accomplish before it can climb into the upper ranks of the world’s safest societies, we should recognize that the country’s annual progress is significant, and that it has even become an Asia-Pacific leader in categories such as fire safety. Vietnam’s safety performance for fire, heat and hot substance injuries is second in the region and is in the top fifteen in the world.
Vietnam is showing us that a safer society doesn't happen by accident. The country’s policymakers are taking clear steps to improve safety performance each and every year, and the results have been positive and encouraging.
David Wroth is a safety expert and is UL’s Director of Data Science. UL fosters safe living and working conditions for people everywhere through the application of science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges. To learn more about UL visit ul.com and the annual UL Safety Index, visit ULSafetyIndex.org.