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Government Issues Report on Accident Prevention and Safety Measures

A number of recent incidents in Japan - including an accident at a uranium processing facility, the failed launch of the H-II rocket by Japan's space development industry, and a series of accidents involving pieces of concrete falling from the ceilings of railway tunnels have had a serious impact on the safety and sense of security of the Japanese public. To promptly respond to this grave situation, on October 6, 1999, the government established an "Accident Prevention and Safety Measures Council" made up of representatives from relevant ministries and agencies. This Council placed a special emphasis on the role of human factors in accidents and disasters, and brought to the forefront a variety of problem areas underlying these accidents, including organizational management, checks and inspections, and personnel training. After discussing common measures that can be taken to remedy problems in these areas, the Council produced a report on approaches to be taken by the government such as promoting a "culture of safety," improving safety-related training in schools, companies, and other organizations and measures to be instituted by businessmen and others to ensure greater safety. The report is summarized below.

Conference on Accident Prevention Safety Measures Outline of Report

December 8, 1999

1. Basic Recognition

Restoring the public's trust regarding safety by increasing safety awareness throughout society by such measures as creating a "Safety-Conscious Culture" and enhancing safety education, thereby preventing accidents and reducing damage and/or casualties.

2. Basic Concept

(1) Efforts are necessary to increase safety awareness throughout society by such measures as the creation of a "Safety-Conscious Culture" and the enhancement of safety education.

(2) Approaches by all of society are necessary in order to develop a common recognition that the necessary costs must be borne to ensure safety.

(3) In order to prevent accidents, employers, etc., must be encouraged to adopt a risk management system - i.e., a system that minimizes the damage inflicted on an organization at the lowest possible costs by preventing accidents and/or promptly carrying out post-accident measures.

(4) A scientific approach is also required in order to prevent accidents, including an analysis of the causes and circumstances of past accidents and research concerning human factors.

(5) A "fail-safe" approach that prevents an operational error from immediately triggering an accident is required in the design and development of machines and systems.

(6) Even in the case of an accident, a structure that functions to minimize the damage or impact must be established.

(7) In implementing safety measures, constant efforts are necessary to evaluate and review their effects.

(8) In order to improve safety, information sharing and disclosure is necessary both within and outside the relevant field of business.

(9) Post-mortem reviews are important for all accidents, including a complete identification of the causes and clarification of the employer's responsibility in order to prevent recurrences.

3. Government Approach to the Creation of "Safety-Conscious Culture" and the Assimilation of Safety Awareness

(1) Measures to enhance safety education throughout the school education program
Promoting education to elevate safety consciousness throughout the school education program, including curriculum and moral education programs, at elementary and secondary schools.
* Promoting safety education activities such as distributing materials for instruction concerning safety education.

Incorporating a safety education perspective in school lessons, such as an "Introduction to Science Program" and a "Children's Science and Manual Arts Classroom" to increase interest among young people in science and technology.
Enhancing education concerning the ethics of engineers through an accreditation system adopted for engineering education.
Enhancing safety education at higher educational levels, such as promoting safety education through opportunities for "Internship" programs (employment experience by students, etc.).

(2) Measures to ensure the full implementation of safety education by employers, etc., and to instill safety awareness in employers, etc.
* Expanding the types of work for which special safety and health education must be provided.
Studying the introduction of a system to provide re-education/ re-training in accordance with years of experience with respect to qualification systems for workers engaged in risk-prone work.
Promoting re-education activities in relation to safety education for professionals including engineers and researchers at advanced educational institutions such as universities.

Disseminating and promoting risk management techniques such as the industrial safety and health management system (voluntary safety and health activities carried out by employers on a continuous basis by determining and establishing a systematic safety program in cooperation with workers).
Implementing improvements in the consultant engineer qualification system, such as adding standards concerning high vocational ethics as one of major requirements.
Fully implementing ethics education for engineers under engineering education programs prepared and provided mainly by industrial associations.
* Other

(3) Ensuring the observance of laws and regulations by employers, etc., and strictly dealing with any violation
* Fully instructing employers to observe all laws and regulations.
* Effectively implementing on-the-spot inspections, etc., by the government.
Strictly implementing administrative dispositions for any violation of laws/regulations and fully investigating potential criminal liabilities.

Reviewing punitive provisions for employers, etc., committing any violation of laws/regulations.

4. Measures to be Taken by Employers, etc., to Ensure Safety

(1) Systematic approaches to safety by employers, etc.
Developing in-house systems by introducing management techniques such as the industrial safety and health management system and the quality management system based on the ISO9000 series.
Promoting the introduction of mechanisms in workplaces, whereby responsible personnel are assigned to guarantee safety such as the preparation of safety work manuals and the establishment of safety work procedures.

Developing appropriate personnel with expertise in safety management and appropriately deploying such personnel; implementing personnel assignments and management by taking into account any workload increases involving individual workers.
* Developing a safety management structure covering the entire organization, including subcontractors.
* Establishing emergency measures such as preparing manuals to deal with emergencies.
* Other

(2) Enhancing safety education for workers
* Fully implementing safety and health education at the time of new employment.
* Enhancing training programs for countermeasures against accidents or abnormal conditions.
Disseminating and promoting such activities as case studies to increase security consciousness and improve security measures at workplaces.

Providing support for education/training programs provided by employers and promoting training opportunities backed by industrial groups

5. Strengthening the Test and Inspection Structure

* Strengthening the quality management structure and improving quality evaluation technology.
* Introducing and deploying the quality management system based on the ISO 9000 series.
* Preparing and improving maintenance and inspection manuals; fully implementing periodic tests by such programs as establishing an inspection week.
* Promoting the utilization of outside experts in order to properly conduct tests/inspections of machinery, equipment, etc.


6. Promoting the Improvement of Machine/System Safety

* Improving safety and reliability by advancing system capabilities (automation, mechanization).
* Promoting the introduction of fail-safe systems, etc.
* Introducing structures/systems that can limit damage in case an accident occurs.
* Other

7. Promoting Information Sharing and Disclosure

* Promoting the sharing of information concerning work dangers as well as preventive measures.
* Promoting the understanding, analysis and utilization of information concerning past accidents and incidents.
Establishing a liaison network covering the government, municipalities, employers and residents, and quickly providing accurate information in case of an accident.


8. Positioning of this Report


The aim of this report is to include as many basic measures as possible so that these measures can serve as guidelines when accident prevention measures are examined in the future by each ministry/agency, municipality, employer, etc.

As measures to be taken to prevent accidents should essentially differ in accordance with various types of industries and employers, it would be desirable for each ministry/agency, municipality and employer to carry out activities suitable for the relevant actual circumstances on the basis of this report.

9. Activities by Related Ministries/Agencies

Related ministries/agencies are requested to promote activities for specific safety measures pertaining to work categories under their respective jurisdiction on the basis of this report, and to report the implementation situation to the Cabinet Secretariat by March 2000.

10. Studies to Reconstruct Production Capabilities

The frequent incidence of accidents in recent years suggests that there are serious problems in production capabilities including quality management that have long been the strong point of our country. This requires separate specialized studies towards reconstructing production capabilities.