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Fostering productivity in a safe work environment

Safety is of the utmost importance to Sulzer. The company strives to create a positive and engaging working environment where employees can conduct their work in absolute safety. With the help of the Sulzer Safe Behavior Program, the company sets itself ambitious goals designed to continually challenge its standards and improve its safety performance.

2018 was a mixed year for safety in Sulzer. On the positive side, Sulzer confirms yet another year in which no one lost their life while working for the company. However, the company’s accident frequency rate (AFR) increased by 7.0%. Nevertheless, Sulzer’s overall accident rates still remain lower than the benchmark for general industries.

The accident severity rate (ASR) also increased significantly by 50.1%. This can largely be attributed to a regulatory anomaly in a specific case. Nevertheless, a total of 97 workers (85 Sulzer employees and 12 contractors) still suffered lost-time accidents.


Sulzer’s acquired businesses were unable to maintain the rates of reduction in accidents that were achieved in their first year of being integrated into the Sulzer safety program. However, given the scale of the initial improvements, this may be merely a reflection of stabilization. Several of Sulzer’s more mature businesses also suffered higher accident rates in 2018, with only the Pumps Equipment division recording a slight reduction in the total number of lost time accidents. None of the divisions reached their targets on the road towards reducing the accident frequency rates to below one lost time injury (LTI) per million working hours.

Working towards an AFR of less than 1.0

In an effort to counter the trend, Sulzer launched several initiatives to increase the hazard awareness of employees, to encourage participation in the safety program and to foster the sharing of competence.

Embedded within the Safe Behavior Program, Sulzer employees participated in more than 60’000 safety walks and observations during the year – an average of more than 2’000 safety conversations per million working hours. To increase transparency, Sulzer introduced the category of “significant incident” in its mandatory reporting requirements. These incidents include any event that could potentially have a life-changing outcome, even if in the actual incident the result was a near miss.

Moreover, to foster the sharing of learnings and competence across all Sulzer businesses, Sulzer launched a global ESH competence network with the specific mandate to work and share good practices and available competence across divisional and business boundaries. These initiatives should help Sulzer return to its journey to reducing AFR to less than 1.0.

Developing our employees

In line with its renewed focus on creating on-the-job development and practice-oriented learning experiences, Sulzer sponsored and supported various internal and external programs throughout 2018. The Sulzer Management Training (SMT) program is offered to first-time line managers and focuses on creating a common understanding of the Sulzer approach to management. In 2018, 80 employees participated in this training. In addition, based on the successful pilot in 2017, Sulzer also conducted the Leadership Orientation program. This offered the opportunity for selected high performers to work in a diverse, global team in close interaction with the CEO and executive team.

Sulzer continues to use the Learning Management System (LMS), a cloud-based learning platform. It allows us to manage and enable access to a range of virtual and e-enabled learning offerings.

Assessing performance and potential

Building on the momentum created in 2017, Sulzer is continuing to harmonize key people management processes globally, and going digital with them at every opportunity. The company has kept with the revised, simplified 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, closely supported by capability-building initiatives like webinars to enable better performance and coaching discussions. 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.

In 2018, Sulzer introduced the first globally aligned approach to assessing potential for future growth. Based on a series of calibrated discussions, employees were assessed on standardized criteria across divisions and business areas. In addition to motivation and ability (performance), the Sulzer behaviors are also considered in assessing employees’ potential. The values and behaviors are strongly linked to driving a high-performance culture.

Geographical spread of employees

Building on diversity, emphasizing inclusion

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 short-term assignments.

Sulzer’s employees are deeply committed to personal responsibility, integrity and ethical behavior. Every employee signs Sulzer’s Code of Business Conduct (CoBC). The company’s compliance training sessions and CoBC refresher courses ensure that employees are fully aware of their 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