Safety and well-being

As a progressive and responsible employer, GF places the highest priority on the health, safety and well-being of its employees.

A safe and healthy working environment is the foundation of strong employee engagement, high productivity and exceptional customer value. As a progressive and responsible employer, GF places the highest priority on the health, safety and well-being of its employees. It endeavors to create a zero-risk workplace through regular cross-site safety audits, awareness campaigns and appropriate safety measures. Overall, GF continually instills a safety mindset in its employees and empowers them to take responsibility for health and safety, both for themselves and others.

Progress in 2022

In 2022, thanks to the concerted efforts of its employees, GF reported zero work-related fatalities for the seventh year in a row. During the reporting year, the overall accident rate – measured using the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) – decreased to 7.9 per 1 million working hours with a total of 265 accidents, compared with a LTIFR of 10.2 (301 accidents) in 20216 (which equals a 12% reduction in the number of accidents compared with 2021). 

By 2025:

Data shows that 86% of those involved in accidents were GF employees, while 14% were leased employees. More than half (56%) of the total accidents were minor injuries to the upper extremities, primarily fingers, hands and arms. The most common causes of injuries were workers struck by objects (51%), followed by slipping, tripping or falling (25%). In terms of working locations, most accidents occurred in production plants (81%), followed by warehouses (5%).

Employees use handrails on stairs to prevent themselves from slipping, tripping or falling. 

Number of accidents among GF employees

Share of accidents, GF employees and leased personnel, 2022 (in %)

Accident rate as lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)1
per million hours worked

As part of its Sustainability Framework 2025, GF aims to reduce its accident rate by at least 30% against the three-year average (2018–2020) of 9.46 as the baseline LTIFR. The three-year average used as a baseline takes into account temporary site closures due to COVID-19 health measures in the first half of 2020.

To raise safety performance, all three divisions have intensified their safety campaigns to increase awareness and strengthen GF’s safety mindset. This includes building time and space into meetings so that employees can share and discuss unsafe conditions or near misses. Different communication tools – such as safety videos or events – continue to reinforce health and safety messages. Building upon its Culture Movement program, GF will continue to foster a strong safety culture at all sites, specifically as this pertains to its value related to "Caring". Through this value, GF underpins the importance of caring for colleagues and team members, giving constructive feedback on behavioral safety as well as acting as a role model.

Acting as a role model to foster a strong safety culture is linked to the GF value related to "Caring".

Safety Standards

The GF Safety Standards contain binding health and safety instructions for the entire company. They apply to all GF and leased employees. The standards set out the applicable regulations and organizational, personal technical measures designed to make daily working practices as safe as possible. They also detail the safety requirements for a wide range of high-risk areas including, but not limited to, the maintenance of equipment, working at height, the use of forklifts/towing vehicles for transportation and storage, and the management of hazardous substances.

The GF Safety Standards set out the applicable regulations and organizational, personal and technical measures designed to make daily working practices as safe as possible.

Improving safety through hazard and risk identification

On both a routine and non-routine basis, GF conducts risk assessments in accordance with corporate and local procedures. It seeks to identify any major risk areas and implement preventative action plans. In line with best practices in safety management and GF Safety Standards, these plans follow the STOP principle. Substitution and technical measures taking precedence over organizational and personnel ones is a method companies use to reduce exposure to hazards for their employees. GF documents these assessments and then summarizes the defined protective measures and safety rules as new operating instructions.

Actions for creating a zero-risk workplace

To ensure full compliance with its safety standards, GF continued to conduct cross-site safety audits (CSSAs) at the divisional level between the operations of each location. Management teams in all divisions receive a summary of the findings and recommended follow-up actions.

GF conducted CSSAs at 45 facilities worldwide, representing 75% of its total production sites. In China, safety teams from GF Casting Solutions and GF Machining Solutions cooperated in conducting cross-divisional CSSAs at each other's sites. Due to travel restrictions, the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Manager at GF Machining Solutions audited its US site. In Europe, safety teams from GF Machining Solutions sites carried out CSSAs on each other.

Communication and training

GF works to instill a safety mindset in its employees to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace. Since 2015, the company has run a "Zero Risk"/"Be Aware – Be Safe" campaign at the divisional level to improve the safety awareness of its employees, contractors and visitors. In 2022, all three divisions continued to expand their campaigns.

GF Piping Systems continued to drive across all sites – both production facilities and in sales companies – the implementation of "Be Aware – Be Safe" campaign that it had launched in 2021, with materials (such as posters and videos) and safety events. The local safety manager of the business units tailored training sessions to the needs of the business and cascaded them to all employees. The positive effect of this can be seen in GF Indonesia, where 1’000 consecutive days with zero injury-related lost-time incidents were recorded, testifying to the effectiveness of the safety program over time. 

GF Piping Systems continued its safety "gemba" walks (Japanese for "the actual place"), which it has implemented at all production sites. Based on lean management principles, these walks take site managers to the shop floor to identify unsafe situations and improve safety behaviors to prevent injuries and property loss.

"Gemba" walks take site managers to the shop floor to identify unsafe situations and improve safety behaviors.

In raising safety awareness, the division aims to go beyond creating a safe work environment by developing safety-conscious employees. That is why, in 2022, the division reinforced the core message that all employees have the authority to stop any unsafe work activity they see by using their "Stop Work Authority" card. Available in 13 different languages, the card is a new feature of the "Stop Work Authority" program launched in 2021.

In addition, to prevent incidents that could result in severe injury or fatality, GF Piping Systems communicated a list of life-saving rules to support its existing safety management systems, programs and policies. These rules cement the division's commitment to continuously improving its safety culture.

As well as launching a global best-practice exchange to encourage all sites to collaborate and share their best practices, the division also required each site to hold an annual safety event with its employees.

The list of life-saving rules complements existing safety management systems, programs and policies.

In the same division, at the GF Harvel facility in Little Rock, AR (US), an internal safety observation program promotes safety awareness in the workplace by recording unsafe conditions and behaviors. Through monthly staff participation, it encourages ownership of the company's safety culture by making all employees feel included and fostering positive conversations about safety.

GF Casting Solutions focused on raising awareness about identifying risk-reduction opportunities. As part of its division-wide health and safety training, it provided sites with engaging training sessions to enhance employees’ risk awareness and offered solutions to help resolve any identified risks.

The division's "Zero Risk" campaign entered its third phase at the start of 2022 with a renewed focus on risk awareness and accident prevention. More specifically, this phase focused on educating employees about potential risks in their working areas and empowering them to address and report them to management and to local EHS teams.

Monthly staff participation encourages ownership of the company's safety culture by making all employees feel included and fostering positive conversations about safety.

The division also started publishing a monthly "Safety First" moment – a brief safety talk about a specific subject at the beginning of a meeting or shift – focusing on crucial health and safety messages. These moments provide employees with discussion points on key health and safety topics within the division, including risk awareness, near-miss reporting and seasonal risks.

GF Machining Solutions started a new safety campaign to raise awareness among staff and visitors, as well as to identify near-misses and unsafe conditions. The division launched the campaign with an educational video highlighting the importance of near-misses and hazardous conditions. The video also highlighted the need for all staff to report such situations to safety officers so they can take action. Finally, during the year, five or six scheduled exchanges between safety officers enabled them to share best practices and keep the momentum on driving the safety mindset within the division.

Moreover, the division requires all sites to report near misses. By providing valuable insights into risky situations, the reports enable the division to take a proactive approach to safety and accident prevention. Analysis of the collected data informs new safety measures as part of the division’s overall goal to achieve zero accidents.

GF Machining Solutions also introduced safety moments at the start of daily meetings in production. Lasting no more than five minutes, this practice encourages employees to tell a personal story about safety and to raise any unsafe conditions they have seen. By serving as a powerful reminder that safety is the top priority, these safety moments play a key part in embedding a safety-conscious mindset in an ongoing culture change.


Accident reporting and prevention of potential accidents

When an accident occurs, GF requires the relevant site to report it within three days – along with a root-cause analysis and the corrective measures implemented – via the company-wide accident reporting tool. This procedure enables the company to gauge the effectiveness of its safety measures and initiatives.

In addition, on a monthly or quarterly basis, all divisions prepare regular accident reports with safety recommendations for divisional management as well as safety officers and employees. Reflecting the high priority GF has put on health and safety, information on this topic is included in the monthly reports provided to the Board of Directors.

After a near-miss or accident, the hazard identification is reviewed and, if necessary, the risk assessment is updated. The head of the department, the safety manager and the managers are responsible for regularly monitoring the implementation of technical and practical safety measures and identifying improvements.

GF Casting Solutions launched its Near-Miss and Observation Reporting tool and made it available to all divisional locations in all relevant languages. The tool enables employees to anonymously report a near-miss or observation – either digitally or physically – to their local EHS teams and management. The Near Miss and Observation reporting tool encourages employees to provide input on solutions and other ways of addressing reported risks.

Safety award

In August 2022, GF Central Plastics in Shawnee, OK (US) won the Pinnacle of Safety Award. The award recognizes an Oklahoma Safety Council member company for achieving the highest level of excellence in its industry in terms of its management commitment, safety culture as well as exceptional health and safety performance.

Cassandra Wiggins and Lewis Chambers from GF Central Plastics receive the Pinnacle of Safety Award with Betsey Kulakowski, Executive Director for the Oklahoma Safety Council

Employee well-being

Beyond its focus on safety, GF also offers its employees opportunities to improve their health and well-being. These can include discounted rates at sports and fitness classes, workshops to manage their work/life balance and on-site yoga classes.

GF Hakan Plastik in Ankara (Turkey) launched the Ergoffice Desk Exercise Program. It aims to provide office employees, who often work in seated positions for longer periods, an opportunity to recharge and be more productive. Participants follow an Ergoffice exercise instructor online three days a week, for 15 minutes of exercises at their desks during their breaks.

Due to its success, GF Health – the competence center for health, encompassing all areas of life in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) – has offered the program as a pilot to office employees at its corporate headquarters, at GF Piping Systems and GF Casting Solutions. Like the program in Turkey, the exercises are offered three times a week for 15 minutes under the guidance of a physiotherapist. With these and other measures, GF Health aims to optimize the health and well-being of all employees at the four Swiss locations in the long term.

Beyond its focus on safety, GF also offers its employees opportunities to improve their health and well-being, such as the Ergoffice Desk Exercise Program offered by GF Health in Switzerland. 
1 In 2022, following GF's target calculation approach four GF companies were newly added to the sustainability targets 2025. The change of scope in reporting was only visible in the baseline of the accident rate target and therefore the target and the baseline was adjusted. Further details are available: Reporting approach