Occupational health and safety

The number of work-related accidents was reduced again in the current reporting year. This brings SFS one step closer to its target of halving the number of occupational accidents by 2025 compared to the 2019 reference year. In order to take account of the dynamic growth of the company, target achievement is now also measured using the relative key figure "accidents per million hours worked", according to which occupational accidents were reduced by –12.8%. The corresponding data were collected for the first time in the reporting year and form the basis for the relative goal of halving the number of accidents by 2025.


GRI 103-1 Explanation of the material topic and its boundary
The company’s employees are crucial to the success of the SFS Group, which makes creating a healthy and safe working environment for all employees a key concern at SFS. This holds particularly true at our production sites, where the processes and workflows – in part due to the high material throughputs – pose health and safety risks for employees and suitable measures must be taken to reduce those risks. Accordingly, these locations and the occupational group of “production employees” are pivotal for evaluations and improvements in the area of occupational health and safety.

In 2020, SFS had set itself the target of reducing occupational accidents by 50% by 2025 compared to the 2019 reference year, with its sights set on gradually moving closer to its long-term goal of zero occupational accidents. Basing the target on 2019 made it challenging, however, because the company’s ongoing growth constantly increases the employee base. As a result, occupational accidents are now also measured using the key ratio of “accidents per 1 million hours worked.” The ambitious goal of halving this figure by 2025 also applies to this ratio. 2020 is used as the reference year since the corresponding figures have not yet been collected for 2019. In 2020, the corresponding accident rate was 4.7 accidents per million hours worked. Accordingly, the target for 2025 is 2.35 accidents per million hours worked.

When setting targets and collecting data, all company locations with more than five employees in which SFS has a stake of more than 50% should be taken into account. One specific goal for data collection is to cover more than 95% of all employees by 2025. The scope covered 9,455 employees at the end of the reporting period (in FTE 2020: 8,956). This corresponds to around 90% (2020: 84%) of the entire workforce, the majority of whom work in a production environment.

When collecting data for the current report, a distinction was made between permanent employees and temporary employees for the first time (see GRI 403-9). The latter are employees whose work is controlled by SFS but who have an employment contract with a third party. If the report refers to employees, no distinction is made between these groups. Otherwise, the terms “permanent” and “temporary” are used. Information pertaining to the reporting period now also includes data on work-related absences with serious consequences and a recovery period that lasted more than six months.

Change in workforce (FTEs)* 2021 2020 2019 Share 2021 Differences 2021/2020
Total Group 9,455 8,956 8,978 5.6%
Engineered Components 7,288 6,818 7,512 77% 6.9%
Fastening Systems 1,547 1,545 1,557 16.4% 0.1%
Distribution & Logistics 621 594 595 6.6% 4.7%

*Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees at the reporting locations where SFS owns ≥50 % of the company and employs more than five people.

GRI 103-2 The management approach and its components
A safe working environment, the well-being and health of SFS employees contribute significantly to the success of the SFS Group, which is why occupational health and safety forms an integral part of the corporate culture. For SFS, it goes without saying that the Group complies with existing laws and consistently pursues the Group-wide targets for improving and promoting occupational health and safety. By embracing the values of “partnership,” “commitment,” “community,” “success” and “change,” which are taken from our corporate principle and form the basis for our day-to-day activities, SFS strives to become a leader in the area of occupational health and safety.

The management approach toward occupational health and safety is aimed at reducing or completely preventing negative consequences by taking these steps:

  • Gradually establish the ISO 45001 management system at material production sites, or, in other words, at all locations where SFS owns a stake of ≥50% and employs more than 50 people.
  • SFS protects the lives and health of all employees through the provision of safe and healthy working conditions.
  • The company improves the corresponding safety measures by identifying and assessing hazards, burdens and risks on a regular basis.
  • Preventive measures and programs such as the introduction of the “10 SFS Group Safety Rules” and corresponding training help prevent accidents.
  • Exchange with all relevant stakeholders in order to further improve “health and safety at work.”
  • SFS encourages employees to take personal responsibility for their own health: Preventive hazard identification and risk assessments at employees’ own workplaces make it possible for the working environment to be adapted accordingly and prevent potential accidents.
  • All employees are required to report situations and noticeable problems immediately that endanger employees’ occupational health and safety. Various communication channels and platforms are made available to them both for that purpose and for suggesting improvements, including the CIP (Continuous Improvement Process) ideas box, team meetings, shop floor meetings and employee meetings. The new mySFS app is another communication channel that allows employees to contact their supervisor or head of department directly and express their concerns. The compliance system integrated by SFS is accessible to all employees; reports may also be submitted anonymously. Employees who report violations will not be penalized as a result.
  • In this context, employees also have the instructed to and required to interrupt their work in the event of a potential risk and/or danger and only resume work again once the situation permits (e.g., hazard/deficiency has been remedied or eliminated). This approach is regularly communicated in training on the “10 SFS Group Safety Rules.”

While the degree of ISO 45001 certification coverage currently varies, it is to cover all material production sites* by 2025. A roadmap has been defined for achieving this goal. Currently, 15 of the 34 locations (PY 13) are ISO 45001 certified.

Segment Engineered Components Fastening Systems
SFS scope* 24 9
Certified 14 1
Being planned 10 8
100% achievement planned 2024 2025

*SFS scope: Material production sites where SFS has a stake of ≥50% and employs more than 50 people. That means sites with a significant impact on SFS’s overall results in terms of accidents are material and no certification is planned for smaller production sites (see also GRI 102-45). As a non-production unit, the D&L division is certified in accordance with the FCOS (Swiss Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety).

Target achievement and review will initially take place on a decentralized basis for each individual location. This is the responsibility of both the site manager, who is responsible for local working conditions, as well as the EHS manager, who is responsible for the environment as well as health and safety at work.

The EHS managers at the site, division and SFS Group levels are in regular contact with each other and record their data on a central collaboration platform. They plan and implement any (corrective) measures and ensure the best possible level of target achievement for the SFS Group, which also ensures employee protection. Discussions regarding progress and deviations take place at regular steering meetings with the Executive Board and at meetings of the Group Executive Board. Further improvements were made to systematic data collection during the year under review. The relevant safety indicators are now collected on a quarterly basis instead of once a year.

GRI 103-3 Evaluation of the management approach
As in the previous year, the number of accidents and lost days was reduced again in 2021. There was a positive trend observed in the defined metrics, particularly at the locations certified in accordance with ISO 45001, which is why we are pushing ahead with efforts to expand this continuously to cover additional locations. Priority will be given to locations with relatively high accident rates. The current management approach should be considered effective and suitable.

The risk assessments are prepared by experts who may call in an external consultant if necessary. The resulting documents are regularly revised when new work equipment, machines or work materials are introduced, when work procedures are changed that could give rise to new hazards or when new insights are gained as a result of an accident or near miss.

Incidents and hazardous situations are reported for all sites in accordance with the local procedures provided for in the respective management system. The Group-wide reporting procedure is based on the NACA Index (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). The general objective is to improve the reporting culture throughout the SFS Group, including reporting by external companies. The effectiveness of the reporting procedure could not be confirmed in one of the events that occurred during the period under review. A system check is planned for this year.

All incidents, including near misses, are investigated. The aim is to identify the underlying causes and take appropriate corrective measures to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. For SFS, it is important that accident investigations are focused on identifying failures in the safety process rather than assigning blame.

As in 2020, the 2021 reporting year was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting the health of all employees was a top priority in this context. All necessary protective measures were implemented swiftly and work at all sites was carried out in accordance with the applicable emergency plans and regulations issued by the local authorities. In addition to the usual hygiene rules, additional measures were introduced where necessary, including the strict separation of teams, the use of remote working and the mandatory use of face masks. Physical events were canceled or replaced by online conferences. Implementing these measures systematically made it possible to offer employees a high level of occupational health and safety and to safeguard business continuity.

In Switzerland, employees were able to test themselves on a weekly basis as part of a study conducted by the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen and supported by the local government. Participation in the study also made it possible to perform antigen tests quickly in case of suspected cases or before events such as meetings or training.


GRI 403-1 Occupational health and safety management system
SFS works with a Group-wide business management system (BMS) that meets the requirements of the current standards according to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 and applies to all SFS locations and all employees. The local sites implement their local management systems based on the BMS as well as local regulatory and statutory requirements. Newly acquired companies are integrated into the BMS using the integration approach.

The BMS is managed by the Corporate Quality & EHS function and deployed by a network of EHS experts in regional and national organizations. Communication and exchanges follow a peer group approach.

Both the BMS and SFS’s local management systems are audited by external parties as part of our ongoing ISO certifications. Internal audits and regular reviews of EHS performance facilitate the continuous improvement of the management system as well as its implementation.

GRI 403-2 Hazard identification, risk assessment, and incident investigation
SFS works under the principle that hazard detection forms the basis for safe work. All sites are obliged to assess hazards on a regular basis, to analyze risks within their sphere of influence and their work processes, and to define corrective and mitigation measures. One of the instruments used to carry out regular assessments is the daily shop floor meeting; these meetings have been introduced at all locations and offer a forum where safety is discussed as an important agenda item. Risk analyses are reviewed when new information becomes available, such as information regarding new legal requirements, changes to systems, equipment or raw materials as well as incidents, accidents and near misses.

In 2019, SFS introduced the “10 Safety Rules of the SFS Group” to raise awareness of risks to the health and safety of employees. Implementation of the “10 SFS Group Safety Rules” was completed by the end of 2021. The training is a mandatory course made available to all employees via e-learning. The safety rules apply at all sites and for all employees.

All employees are responsible for ensuring that all accidents, incidents and near misses are reported to their line managers immediately to guarantee that investigations and corrective measures can be carried out in good time. Violations against the security rules can also be reported to the Compliance Officer anonymously. Corresponding online forms are available both internally (via the employee app) and externally (via the company website). That means violations can be reported by all stakeholders.

All incidents, accidents and near misses are investigated. A formal analysis of the cause is carried out and the findings of that analysis are communicated throughout the company.

Each location has an active risk management system in place and is prepared for possible incidents. The site’s senior management appoints a crisis management team and maintains contingency plans where necessary.

Possible incidents include:

  • Hazards and damage to people and the environment (accidents, fire, flooding, storms, earthquakes, epidemics/pandemics, etc.)
  • Interruption of business (unavailability or absence of workers, energy, procured components, operating resources, etc.)
  • Interference by unauthorized persons (unauthorized access, vandalism, sabotage, espionage, cyber attacks, etc.)
  • Customer complaints (product liability and warranty claims, etc.)

The goal of risk management and contingency plans is to ensure that customer requirements can be satisfied smoothly and promptly, even during the potential incidents listed above.

GRI 403-3 Occupational health services
SFS ensures access to qualified occupational health services through country-specific approaches that meet local statutory requirements and offer the service in the national language. Employees are given information on the occupational health services available during their induction or briefing. The services are offered during normal working hours. Employees’ right to data protection and privacy is respected and complied with. Employees’ use of or participation in such services and programs or the health data collected as a result are not used as a decision-making criterion for employee development (termination, promotion, etc.).

GRI 403-4 Worker participation, consultation and communication on occupational health and safety
Occupational health and safety-related topics introduced by employees are discussed at site level in the Accident and Safety Commission meetings. These meetings are held at regular intervals, either monthly or quarterly, depending on the location.

In addition, regular discussions on the topic of occupational health and safety take place on many other channels/platforms. These include team meetings, shop floor meetings, quarterly reports, information screens, the employee magazine, the employee app, one-on-one meetings and employee surveys.

GRI 403-5 Worker training on occupational health and safety
All new employees are welcomed to an induction day (e.g., SFS Welcome Day) where they are informed about health and safety via the systems available (on-site training, online training, e-learning platform) as well as their rights and obligations. The training sessions are held at regular intervals by qualified safety officers or specialists. Basic training includes the correct use of personal protective equipment, the “10 SFS Group Safety Rules” (in detail) as well as specialist instructions on lifting platforms, forklift trucks, hazardous substances and other similar topics. The content of the “10 Safety Rules of the SFS Group” will now also be communicated to employees on a regular basis via e-learning courses.

The courses will be held in small groups to ensure that each employee is able to contribute appropriately. The aim of the courses is to ensure that participants understand the content of the courses as well as the correct use of special tools, both in theory and on site, and that they can implement this information in practical examples.

The wide range of courses offered during working hours is individually adapted to the content and the target persons, documented and made available to all employees.

GRI 403-6 Promotion of worker health
SFS promotes employee health through a wide range of campaigns and initiatives. In Switzerland, these include:

  • Flexible safety plans during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Promotion of the use of bicycles
  • Introduction of an incentive system (EcoPoints) to boost commuting to work by e-bike, on foot or by public transport
  • Adapted cycling routes and increased safety for cyclists on company premises
  • Various athletic activities

GRI 403-7 Prevention and mitigation of occupational health and safety impacts directly linked by business relationships
SFS attaches great importance to a maximum level of protection, occupational health and safety among its own employees as well as all other stakeholder groups that visit the factory premises. All guests and business partners who visit the production facilities during their stay at SFS will be provided with appropriate protective equipment (face mask, safety goggles, safety shoes, etc.). Contractors who carry out work on the factory premises also receive a safety briefing and are obligated to comply with these rules. In our quality assurance agreement, suppliers promise to ensure occupational safety and working conditions that promote good health in their companies and supply chains. This is systematically verified as part of supplier audits.

On the customer side, SFS uses operating and installation instructions, safety data sheets and, in some cases, user training courses to ensure that the commissioning, installation and use of the products meet the latest requirements with respect to ergonomics and safety.

GRI 403-9 Work-related injuries
During the current year under review, the number of occupational accidents involving one or more lost workdays fell by –12.8% compared to 2020 and the number of lost workdays declined by 17%, from 1,904 to 1,580 days. The accident rate has dropped from 4.7 to 4.1 accidents per million hours worked. 9.5 occupational accidents were recorded per 1,000 employees during the year under review (PY 10.9). All injuries were investigated and appropriate improvement measures were taken to prevent similar incidents in future.

One objective during the year under review was to continue efforts to include the remaining metrics specified by the GRI standards. In addition to the metric of accidents per million hours worked, additional data was collected on work-related injuries with serious consequences. All metrics now also differentiate between “permanent” and “temporary” employees.

Work-related injuries Change over previous year
Unit 2021 2020 2019 2020/2021
Employees documented1) FTE 9,455 8,956 8,978 5.6%
Total number of hours worked
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees
Hours 20,230,895

18,183,174* 11.3%

New metric introduced in 2021
Occupational accidents >= 1 day2)
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

Accident rate
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

#/million hours



98 –3.5%

New metric introduced in 2021

New metric introduced in 2021
Occupational accidents > 3 days
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

Accident rate
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

#/million hours




New metric introduced in 2021

New metric introduced in 2021
Work-related injuries with serious consequences3)
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

Rate with serious consequences
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

#/million hours



New metric introduced in 2021
Work-related injuries resulting in fatalities
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

Rate of deaths
- Permanent employees
- Temporary employees

#/million hours
0 0 0 0%

New metric introduced in 2021
Total number of days lost # days 1,580 1,904 1,749 –17.0%
Days lost per 1,000 employees Days/1,000 FTEs 167 213 195 –21.4%
Occupational accidents per 1,000 employees # 8.7 9.5 10.9 –8.7%

The number # refers to the absolute number of incidents in each case.

1)Number of employees in the entities currently reporting
2)Occupational accidents are based on the number of work-related injuries resulting in an absence of at least one working day.
3)Work-related injuries with serious consequences resulting in a recovery period of at least 6 months (not including fatalities).
*)1,763,174 hours of work were indicated in the previous year. The correct figure is 18,183,174 for 2020.

Cuts, at 31%, are still the most common type of work-related injury (PY 31%). Tripping-related accidents were reduced from 28% to 13% and accidents involving the means of work and equipment were also down from 19% to 16%.

In order to reduce the number of cuts, more attention is being paid to the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and changes have been made to the PPE provided at locations that are particularly hard-hit. Tripping-related accidents are being reduced through the use of additional visual cues as well as workstation optimizations aided by 5S methodology. The risk matrix is used to regularly assess the means of work and equipment so to subsequently minimize potential hazards.