Growing and improving in a safe work environment

Sulzer aims to offer its people a safe and fun place to work. With help of the Sulzer Safe Behavior Program, the company sets itself ambitious goals to improve its safety performance continually. Sulzer encourages regular dialogue and provides specific feedback to help employees grow and improve.

In 2017, Sulzer started to integrate the acquisitions announced in 2016. The newly acquired businesses added more than 800 new employees. They started to adopt Sulzer’s safety and health standards as well as reporting systems during the reporting year. Many of these businesses started from a position of high accident rates and low investment in safety compared with the standards expected of the existing Sulzer businesses. Sulzer focused on providing management and employee training and workshops about workplace safety. Thanks to these efforts, the new businesses made remarkable progress and managed to improve their safety performance significantly throughout the year. The new Applicator Systems division was able to cut its major accident rate by almost 60% from 2016. Although only acquired in the second quarter of 2017, the Ensival Moret business managed to reduce its accident rate by roughly 50%.

Striving for an accident frequency rate of 1.0 by 2020

The company’s goal is to globally track and drive an ambitious yet realistic safety program. This program encompasses different businesses with both more and less mature safety cultures. This is why Sulzer’s executive management set a road map to reduce the overall accident frequency rate (AFR, in cases per million working hours) to 1.0 by the end of 2020 (accidents of Sulzer employees excluding those of contractors). Accordingly, Sulzer’s target for the accident frequency rate in 2017 was set at 2.8.

Increase in accidents because of newly acquired businesses

In 2017, Sulzer achieved an overall accident frequency rate of 2.7. The accident severity rate (ASR, in lost days per million working hours) amounted to 54.0. Overall, the company reported a total of 78 major accidents (accidents with one or more lost working days), resulting in 1’564 lost working days. Sulzer suffered no fatalities in 2017.


The increase in AFR and ASR was mainly due to the higher accident rates of the newly acquired businesses. With the exception of the Pumps Equipment division, the more mature businesses within Sulzer were able to improve or maintain their safety performance. Because of Sulzer’s training and emphasis on safety, the acquisitions managed to improve their safety performance significantly throughout the year. 

Reinforcing the Safe Behavior Program

Despite the positive development in safety performance, it was a challenging year for Sulzer to maintain focus on its Safe Behavior Program (SBP). Sulzer recognizes that to match the goal set in the safety road map for 2018, the company must reinforce the SBP and realize more training opportunities globally. Together with the integration program, the SBP remains Sulzer’s flagship safety vehicle.

Creating development experiences

In 2017, Sulzer stepped away from traditional classroom training and learning-centered development. The company now focuses on individual development planning and on creating development experiences. The Sulzer Management Training (SMT) program remains to enable junior managers mastering the basics of management. It educated 91 participants in 2017. In addition, Sulzer implemented the Leadership Orientation program. It offers the opportunity for strong contributors to work in a diverse, global team with a high level of interaction with the CEO and executive team. The pilot initiative included 30 high performers representing 14 different countries.

Sulzer continues to use the Learning Management System (LMS), a cloud-based learning platform. Newly implemented projects in 2017 include a platform for global technology to better leverage knowledge and information and a stronger focus on health and safety.

Measuring the how

Building on the momentum created in 2016, Sulzer is continuing to harmonize key people management processes globally, and going digital with them at every opportunity. The company revised, simplified, and adapted the entire performance management process – from setting objectives to annual appraisal. The process now includes a strong focus on driving higher levels of performance within the organization.

The annual performance appraisal was redesigned to incorporate the newly introduced behaviors. It now emphasizes that achievement is measured not only by what is done but also by how it is done. The behaviors are strongly linked to driving a high-performance culture. Although Sulzer has made many changes in its cultural transformation, the company has maintained the possibility for employees to exceed objectives and be rewarded fully for delivering outstanding performance.

Geographical spread of employees

Building on diversity

Sulzer builds on the strengths and diversity of its people. All employees – regardless of their cultural backgrounds, nationalities, genders, and ages – have unique skills to contribute. Sulzer is always stronger than the sum of its parts. To foster the exchange among them, employees have the possibility to participate in job rotation programs, internships, and temporary relocations.

Sulzer’s employees are deeply committed to personal responsibility, integrity, and ethical behavior. Every employee signs Sulzer’s Code of Business Conduct. The company’s compliance training sessions and Code of Business Conduct refresher courses ensure that Sulzer employees are fully aware of their individual ethical responsibilities and that they act accordingly. Read more in the “Corporate governance” section. 

Key figures





Change in +/–%

Accident frequency rate (AFR)

Cases per million working hours




Accident severity rate (ASR)

Lost days per million working hours




Health and safety training





Voluntary attrition rate





Share of women (of total workforce)





Number of employees