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Health & Safety

Oerlikon recognizes the critical role employees play in driving success and growth, and the company is committed to providing an attractive and safe workplace by enacting comprehensive health and safety measures. Employee safety is mandated by the Group’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors and is a core Oerlikon value as captured in the “Zero Harm to People” principle. The principle covers not only employees, but also contractors, visitors and the communities in which the company operates.

Oerlikon’s Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Committee works across all sites and businesses to establish health, safety and environment guidelines and processes for the company. It is also responsible for driving the implementation of related programs and monitoring their performance. An online tool aids in the standardization of HSE practices across the Group. It is used to track and assign tasks to sites and to follow up on their implementation via an HSE balanced scorecard.

Accident Rates

Accident Rates

Since 2017, Oerlikon’s key safety KPI has been the rate of recordable work-related injuries, internally referred to as the total accident frequency rate (TAFR), which is based on 200 000 hours worked.

Oerlikon shifted the indexing from the previously used lost time accident (LTA) frequency rate to TAFR because TAFR includes all injuries beyond those requiring only first aid. In 2020, Oerlikon reduced its TAFR by 23% to 0.68 compared to 2019. Compared to the initial baseline set in 2016, there is a 48% reduction.

The highest health and safety priority of the year was safeguarding the entire workforce in the face of COVID-19. Oerlikon moved quickly to update its infectious diseases guidelines and continually update corporate COVID-19 HSE instructions to stay on track with scientific knowledge and recommended best practices.

To protect employees who continued to work on-site during the pandemic, Oerlikon piloted and subsequently rolled out more extensively the wearable sensor-based SafeZone technology, which tracks the distance between employees with centimeter accuracy and emits a warning tone when they do not maintain safe distance. The software also tracks contact chains precisely in the event of an infection. By the end of 2020, the technology was issued to more than 90 Oerlikon sites across 19 European countries and in the US. In Russia, South America, Canada and Asia (outside of China), an alternative but similar technology, known as SpaceBands, was deployed in early 2021.

As COVID-19 took a toll on people physically, mentally and emotionally, Oerlikon launched the “We Protect What We Love” campaign to maintain employee morale during the pandemic. Teams from countries around the world shared anecdotes and photos of innovations they had implemented in the workplace, experiences with virtual training that allowed them to continue professional development despite COVID-19 and even social (yet socially distant) events. This fostered a continued sense of connection among employees Group-wide and reduced feelings of isolation.

Further information on health & safety initiatives can be found in the Oerlikon 2020 Sustainability Report.


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