Best Community Affairs

Underwriters Laboratories makes the world Safety Smart®

More than 830,000 children worldwide die each year from unintentional injuries. This organization is working to save young lives.

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The No. 1 killer of children throughout the world is unintentional injury, claiming more than 830,000 lives each year. 

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) president and CEO Keith Williams wants to change that. 

What’s his goal? It’s for every child, everywhere in the world to be safety smart, reducing those tragic numbers. 

The good news is that, thanks to its employees and volunteers, teachers, and organizations worldwide, UL’s Safety Smart® program has reached more than 117 million children and adults. 

This mission and reach earned UL, a global, not-for-profit, independent safety science company founded in 1894, top honors in the Best Community Affairs category of PR Daily’s 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. 

In this category, we asked entrants, “How did your corporate efforts contribute to causes in your home community, the nation, or worldwide?”

UL told us. “For employees at UL, ‘Working for a Safer World’ is more than a company motto—it’s a way of life. Employees at UL do more than work for a company with a public safety mission. They live the mission.”

The World Health Organization characterizes the unintentional injuries claiming so many lives each year—traffic-related crashes, drowning, burns, falls, and more—as predictable and preventable, UL says. 

UL believes “standards, certifications, and regulations alone are not sufficient in addressing all aspects of injury prevention.” That’s why it developed Safety Smart®, “a program allowing employees to improve a child’s awareness and understanding of safety, health, and well-being, thereby helping children to manage themselves and their surroundings by conscious action, not chance.”

Around the world, the organization’s employees volunteer as Safety Smart Ambassadors. They bring the Safety Smart® program to classrooms, camps, youth groups, daycare centers, scout meetings, and community fairs. The program’s educational materials include animations, flash cards, activities, and more in 20 languages. Employees choose not only their language of choice but the safety topic to present based on their own interest, experience, and comfort level. 

Safety Smart® includes programs on topics such as home, water, fire, and online safety. It has programs about going green and being healthy and fit, and plans to introduce additional programs this year. 

As UL expanded its Safety Smart Ambassador program to include non-UL employees, it established partnerships with the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, more than 600 fire departments in the U.S., the U.S. Embassy, Disney, and organizations in Europe, Africa, and in nations such as China, India, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan. UL provides the training, educational materials, and know-how for partners to bring the Safety Smart® program to children in their own communities. 

What does UL want to see through its efforts? It wants to make children around the globe safety smart—to help them “[build] a consciousness and a knowledge which they draw upon in making better life-sustaining choices helping all children to ‘die of old age.’”

We think 22 countries and 117.6 million people reached is a pretty good start. 

Learn about Safety Smart® here

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