NSC Releases State of Safety Report, No State Earns an ‘A’ Across the Board

June 27, 2017

According to a new National Safety Council report, no state goes far enough to protect its residents from leading causes of preventable deaths and injuries – commonly known as “accidents” – on the road, in homes and communities and at work. Despite preventable deaths being at an all-time high, none of the 50 states or Washington, D.C., earned an “A” for overall safety. The State of Safety details state-by-state issues in a first-of-its-kind comprehensive assessment of how well Americans are protected from risk. The report outlines safety actions at the state level.

During a brief webinar highlighting the report and its release, Deborah Hersman, president and CEO, emphasized the NSC’s mission to eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime. She explained that unintentional deaths have risen more than 27 percent since 1992.

The report wraps up National Safety Month, observed each June to draw attention to eliminating preventable deaths. Fatalities from poisonings – including drug overdoses – motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and fires have increased 7 percent since 2014, claiming 146,571 lives each year.

Seven states – Maryland, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, Connecticut, California and Washington – and Washington, D.C., received a “B” overall. Eleven states received an “F” – Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Mississippi, Idaho and Missouri.

“The cultural novocaine has to wear off,” said Hersman. “Safety is no accident. We lose more than 140,000 people because of events we know how to prevent. This report provides states with a blueprint for saving lives, and we hope lawmakers, civic leaders, public health professionals and safety advocates use it to make their communities measurably safer.”

The State of Safety assessed states’ safety efforts by examining laws, policies and regulations around issues that lead to the most preventable deaths and injuries. There are 62 indicators in the report graded on a 1-5 scale. Hersman said 367 subject matter experts were surveyed to tailor the weighted indicators. Earning an “A” required states to have 70 percent of the indicators in place. In addition to receiving an overall grade, states earned grades in three different sections: Road Safety, Home and Community Safety and Workplace Safety. States were given “On Track”, “Developing” and “Off Track” distinctions in all three sections’ safety issues.

The five highest and lowest scoring states for road safety are:

Highest Lowest
Illinois Wyoming
Louisiana Arizona
Washington, D.C. Missouri
Delaware South Dakota
Maine Montana

Hersman explained there were eight main safety issues related to road safety:

  • alcohol-impaired driving
  • child passengers
  • distracted driving
  • older drivers
  • seatbelts
  • speeding
  • teen drivers
  • vulnerable drivers (motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians)

More than 70 percent of preventable accidents happen at home and in the community, according to Hersman. The report outlined the leading causes of preventable death in the home and in the community:

  • Poisonings (include opioid overdoses and carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Firearms
  • Falls
  • Choking and suffocation
  • Drownings
  • Home fires

Only one state – Maryland – earned an “A” in this category.

The five highest and lowest scoring states for home and community safety are:

Highest Lowest
Maryland Utah
Connecticut Missouri
California Idaho
New Mexico South Carolina
Massachusetts Mississippi

Illinois and Washington were the only two states to earn an “A” in the workplace safety category. Of the 5000 workplace fatalities a year, 40 percent involve motor vehicle accidents, Hersman said.

The five highest and lowest scoring states for workplace safety are:

Highest Lowest
Illinois Missouri
Washington South Dakota
Colorado Idaho
Minnesota Wyoming
Washington, D.C. Kansas

Two other speakers provided personal accounts of how a preventable accident and addiction impacted their lives.

Tom Goeltz, vice president of Risk Management Services for the Hayes Company, explained how his daughter and her unborn child’s death impacted his family, community and work environment. On February 29, 2016, his pregnant daughter was killed by a distracted driver. His voice cracked with emotion as he explained that “distracted driving has become a national epidemic.” He suggested a three prong approach to deal with the issue:

  1. Continuing education to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.
  2. Increase enforcement efforts to include employers banning cell phone use while driving.
  3. Stronger legislation to send a clear message that distracted driving will not be tolerated.

He said drivers should put cellphones in airplane mode while driving or utilize mobile applications available to block calls while driving.

Rodrigo Garcia, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, executive program director and co-founder of the Parkdale Recovery Center, in Indiana, explained that he was recovering addict for the past seven years. He said addiction will result in one of three scenarios: jail, institutions or death.

He emphasized that addition affects everyone, it costs U.S. employers alone $400 billion a year. Though some states have prescription databases, they are not all administered uniformly. This has resulted in people no longer doctor shopping, but rather state shopping. Garcia outlined some staggering statistics:

  • 1 in 3 people know an addict
  • 1 in 10 people live with an addict
  • 1 in 15 people are addicts

Some ways to reduce addiction include:

  • Talk about it.
  • Education beginning at a young age.
  • Institute uniform reporting requirements.
  • Look at it as a disease, one which can be treated.

Source: National Safety Council

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