Ohio gets 'D' in safety report on preventable deaths, injuries

Ohio isn’t a particularly safe place, especially on the road or at home.

The situation is a bit better in the workplace.

Overall, the state gets a “D” and ranks 38th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., for safety policies or actions that could be preventing injuries and deaths, according to a National Safety Council report released this week.

Grades aren’t based on the number of people who have died.

The council, based near Chicago, said 146,000 preventable deaths and 40.6 million preventable injuries occur in the country each year, and more than half of them occur at home. Preventable injuries from motor-vehicle crashes, guns, fires, drownings and drug overdoses cost society more than $ 850 billion a year.

In Ohio, the report identified 6,844 preventable deaths in 2015, a number that probably increased last year because of a surge in drug overdoses.

“Unfortunately, what this uncovered is not surprising. We know preventable deaths are at all-time high,” said Tatyana Warrick, a council spokeswoman. “We lose 146,000 people every year (from) deaths that are predictable, preventable and avoidable.”

The report is the first by the council.

“It is a snapshot in time. We hope this report provides useful guidelines for lawmakers at all levels and all those working in this space in trying to eliminate preventable deaths,” Warrick said.

Ohio officials are still looking at the report.

“Additional insight into important health and safety issues like these can help inform efforts to address them at the state and local levels,” said Russ Kennedy, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health. 

No state received an “A” in the report; seven states and Washington, D.C., got a “B.” The report gave 17 states a “C,” 15 states a “D” and 11 states an “F.”

Ohio ranked 42nd in road safety, 29th in home and community safety and 19th in workplace safety.  

Ohio gets poor marks for policies on seat belts and child passengers and for not requiring all motorcyclists and young bicyclists to wear helmets.

Traffic deaths and injuries in Ohio and nationally have been increasing in the past few years, although the numbers remain lower than in earlier periods.

“The last six years have been the safest ever on Ohio’s roads,” the Ohio Department of Public Safety said in a statement citing its “many prevention, education and enforcement efforts.”

For home and community safety, the state rates poorly regarding policies that could improve gun safety, reduce death and injury from house fires and prevent drownings.

That category also includes drug overdoses, which have skyrocketed in Ohio in recent years, killing at least 4,149 people in 2016, according to data compiled by The Dispatch. Deaths from overdoses this year are running ahead of last year’s pace.

But the report is more focused on policy than deaths and gives credit to the state for taking steps to regulate opioids and pain-management clinics.

In home safety, the state gets credit for programs meant to reduce falls by older adults. Falls are the top reason that patients end up at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, said Anne Goodman, the hospital’s injury-prevention coordinator.

“Among the elderly, they are costly and deadly,” she said.

The state’s best scores are in workplace safety. Ohio fared well in the ranking for workers’-compensation benefits and is given credit for developing programs for worker safety, health and well-being.



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