The bfu – History



  • On 12 October 1938, the director of the Swiss National Insurance Fund (Suva) and the chairman of the Accident Directors Conference found the bfu – Swiss Council for Accident Prevention.
  • Emil Joho runs the bfu, assisted by a secretary working half time. 
  • During its first year, the bfu renovates Chur’s Stadtplatz square, organises a ski instructors’ course and issues its first product recommendation – a protective device for scythes. 


  • The first bfu poster against drinking and driving is designed to act as a deterrent. 
  • Several potato steamers explode on farms. The bfu issues recommendations on how to prevent such accidents. 


Traffic instructors visit schools to promote the safety of society’s youngest road users. The bfu supports them in their work. 




The bfu conducts the first tests with release ski bindings.



The bfu publishes guidelines for the installation, maintenance and marking of downhill pistes and ski routes. This marks the launch of the blue, red and black piste difficulty grading.



  • The obligation to halt at stop signs becomes law after the bfu and the Swiss Road Transport Association test the scheme. 
  • The bfu and the Swiss Ski Federation prepare regulations to ensure the quality of ski piste patrols. Trained patrollers are awarded honorary pennants.



  • First national road safety campaign: “Achtung – Kinder“ (Caution – Children).
  • Road accident figures rise steeply. The bfu calls for legislation to make fitting all motor vehicles with speedometers mandatory. 






The bfu introduces the concept of school traffic safety patrols.


The bfu distributes safety tips in the wake of incidents involving exploding pressure cookers.



  • The bfu sign "Sicherheit sei unsere Losung" (Safety is our slogan) is replaced by the depiction of a person protected by two shields.
  • More roundabouts featuring right of way from the right are constructed in built-up areas.   




The Swiss Post Office issues a special stamp in honour of the “Achtung Kinder” (Caution – Children) campaign.



The bfu’s first director Emil Joho dies during his tenure. He is succeeded by Robert Walthert.


The bfu promotes the wearing of safety belts in Switzerland, following the example of Sweden, where road traffic fatalities have been halved as a result their use. 


  • The first warning billboards on roads outside urban areas and motorways are erected to highlight road traffic dangers.
  • Heating with coal is giving way to heating with gas and oil. The improvised installation of gas and oil heaters results in rising numbers of fires, explosions and problems with hazardous emissions. 







  • The bfu promotes the distribution of the first devices for adjusting ski bindings in sports equipment stores.   
  • The bfu moves into the Suva building at Laupenstrasse 11 in Berne.  



  • Driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.8 permille (8 ml of alcohol per 100 mg of blood) becomes an offence.
  • The bfu introduces the widely acclaimed and highly controversial poster “Nur Hühner hühnern über die Strasse” (Only chickens meander across the road).




  1. Interest in the prevention of domestic accidents increases – the bfu produces informational slides to raise risk awareness.
  2. Fashion demands the wearing of stiletto heels. The number of footwear-related accidents skyrockets.



  • The bfu campaigns against “excessive signals” on Swiss roads. 
  • Basel graphic designer Edi Hauri creates one of the most memorable campaign posters with the motif «Achtung Kinder» (Caution – Children).
  • Exploding whipped-cream makers hit the headlines. 



  • The bfu introduces a quality label for ski bindings. 
  • The number of television set fires increases.






  • Fitting safety belts to the front seats of passenger cars, vans and minibuses becomes compulsory.
  • Children are particularly prone to accidents on escalators.



Following the English model, the bfu creates the bfu safety delegates network. By the end of 2012, there are some 1200 of these specialists.


Skateboards become a source of accidents. Municipal authorities are invited to designate special training areas.




  • The bfu develops minimum safety requirements for motorcycle and motor-scooter helmets together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials, Science and Technology EMPA) in St. Gallen and the Forensic Medicine Institute (GMI) in Zurich. A quality label based on this standard is introduced.
  • Launch of the slogan: “Kluge Köpfe schützen sich” (Bright brains protect themselves), urging cyclists and motorcyclists to wear protective headgear.
  • The federal law on the Security of Technical Installations and Equipment (STEG) comes into force. 




Preliminary tests are conducted with so-called “shark teeth” road markings at intersections without right of way.



  • Together with the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, the bfu introduces an electronic ski binding adjustment device.
  • Non-slip rugs and doormats are marked with a bfu quality label.


  • Parents receive a biannual children’s newsletter, which raises risk awareness of accidents affecting under six-year-olds and gives information on appropriate measures. In 2007, its scope is extended to eight years of age.
  • Appointment of the 1000th safety delegate.
  • Accidents involving lawnmowers are on the rise.




  • The wearing of seat belts on front seats becomes compulsory. At the same time, mandatory helmet wearing for motorcyclists is introduced. 
  • Robert Walthert retires. He is succeeded by Dr Heinz Jung.



  • The bfu goes on the road to meet the general public with “mobile bfu”.
    Together with the Alliance of Swiss Women’s Organisations, Pro
  • Senectute, the Swiss Red Cross and the Swiss Samaritans’ Federation, the bfu launches the “Sicherheit auf Schritt und Tritt” (Safety at every turn) initiative.



  • Introduction of the 50 km/h speed limit in built-up areas. Five years later, speed limits of 80 km/h outside built-up areas and 120 km/h on motorways are confirmed in a popular vote.
  • Giant slides in indoor and outdoor swimming pools are gaining in popularity. The bfu develops guidelines for their construction and operation.
  • Conversion of the bfu into a private foundation. The Swiss National Insurance Fund (Suva) and private insurers are represented on the Board of Trustees.



  • Every third sports accident is football related. The bfu and its partners publish tips for playing football safely.
  • Fault current protection becomes mandatory in bathrooms of new and renovated buildings, as well as electronic appliances designed for outdoor use.



The bfu develops a children’s safety cooker hob guard that can be fitted to most cooking systems.



The bfu celebrates its 50th anniversary, renting SBB railway carriages and PTT vehicles to house a public exhibition of the foundation’s activities.



The “Sicherheit à la carte” initiative makes recommendations for the safe design and equipment of kitchens as well as working safely in the kitchen.



  • Legislation making wearing a helmet for motor-scooter users compulsory comes into force. 
  • Suva, EMPA und bfu prepare regulations for the testing of non-slip shoe soles and flooring in regards to the bfu safety label.




  • The bfu ski sticker is introduced. It is aimed at encouraging skiers to have their bindings adjusted at the beginning of each new ski season.
  • The bfu and Swiss national television are jointly responsible for the content of the game show “Tele Rallye”.


  • The bfu publishes its comprehensive child accident survey, based on the evaluation of some 7000 accidents. Conclusion: projected 120,000 children annually require medical treatment as a result of accidents.
  • A survey on accident occurrence in snowboarding reveals the need for action in this new sport.



  • The “Ritter der Strasse” (Knights of the Road) initiative celebrates its 25th anniversary. It honours individuals who display courage by going to the aid of road users in danger. By the end of 2012, 444 people have been appointed Knights of the Road.
  • New rules for pedestrian crossings come into effect. The hand signal is replaced by the clearly visible intention of the pedestrian to cross the crossing. The motorist is obliged by law to grant right of way.
  • A law comes into effect making the wearing of seat belts on the back seats of motor vehicles compulsory.
  • Dr Heinz Jung retires. Peter Hehlen becomes the bfu’s new managing director.



  • The bfu decides to publish a biannual magazine called «Reflexe», to be distributed to all Swiss households.
  • The bfu opens a media centre in French-speaking Switzerland.



  • The bfu assesses for the first time the use of child-restraint systems in cars. Result: 70 % of children under 12 years of age are appropriately secured.
  • “Never without” says Roger Moore in a television commercial. He is talking about making sure he has a valid bfu ski sticker attached to his skis.



  • The adoption of bicycle helmet wearing is put under the microscope. Result: nationwide, an average of 14 % of cyclists wear one. 
  • The bfu campaign “Dummies never die” is aimed at preventing sports and road accidents.



  • The start of “Vision Zero”, a road traffic safety project.
  • Every two years, a prize worth 15,000 francs is awarded to municipalities that make a commitment to safety. 




A six-year prevention campaign promoting hip protectors for fall-prone individuals starts.



Together with five other institutions, the bfu presents the SIGNALSCHMERZ exhibition at the Expo.02.



  • Peter Hehlen retires. Dr Brigitte Buhmann takes over at the helm of the bfu on 1 January. She makes communications one of the foundation’s core priorities.
  • The bfu engages with NOA prevention efforts in companies.
  • The bfu launches the “1 Glas ist o.k.” campaign. The ensuing legal action brought by the Swiss Publicans’ Association is successfully challenged.




  • The permissible blood-alcohol limit for drivers is reduced from 0.8 to 0.5 permille (5 ml of alcohol per 100 mg of blood). Legislation requiring two-phase driver training in order to obtain a driving licence comes into force.
  • Launch of an education centre under the motto “Teach the teachers”.
  • The first SINUS Report – a series of publications providing information on safety standards and accident occurrence on the roads – comes out.



The campaign “1000 Unfälle pro Tag. Schütze Dich” (1000 accidents a day. Protect yourself) aims to raise risk awareness in young winter sports enthusiasts.



  • In its 70th year, the bfu moves into its new offices at Hodlerstrasse 5a, opposite Berne Art Museum. 
  • The first issue of “sicher leben” (Live Safely), the bfu’s magazine for prevention partners, is published.



  • The safety belt campaign launched in 2005 comes to a close. The proportion of seatbelt wearers in canton Ticino rises from 55 to 83 %.
  • Franky Slow Down, an angel clad in a sharp white suit, promotes moderating speed on the roads – with huge success.


Launch of the focal point program targeting falls. Goal: a significant reduction of the around 300,000 accidents caused by falls.



  • 81 % of skiers wear a helmet, in contrast to just 16 % during the 2002/03 winter season.
  • The bfu holds its 20th traffic instructor course with some 270 participants.




Parliament passes the Via Sicura action program. It is based on a background report by the bfu.



The bfu celebrates its 75th anniversary under the motto “75 Jahre mit Voraussicht” (75 years with foresight). An interactive exhibition on accident prevention is created, and the anniversary is commemorated with a special issue stamp. 
More on the anniversary

The bfu reinforces NOA prevention efforts in companies, based on comprehensive market analysis.



  • The bfu makes companies a focal point of its work and launches the bfu SafetyKit, a ready-to-use accident prevention package for SMEs.  
  • The ISSI instruments ensure more safety in the road infrastructure. The bfu carries out first consultations and undertakes the training of the cantonal safety delegates. 


  • Together with its partners, the bfu launches the 'Balance in Motion' fall prevention campaign to raise awareness in older adults of the importance of regularly training strength and balance.
  • Since January 2014, the bfu has been coordinating the issuing of water safety check certificates (modelled on the Canadian Swim to Survive® programme, which tests children's ability to rescue themselves after falling into water) to partner organizations. In September 2016, the bfu issued its 100,000th certificate.