Safety, Health and Environment

Our Zero Harm / Zero Waste culture provides the foundation of our business. We put the safety and well-being of our employees, the protection of the environment and the strength of our communities ahead of all other priorities. Our employees bring this commitment to life with whole-hearted passion and process-oriented discipline because they understand the importance of embodying Zero Harm every day.

We codify our approach to Zero Harm through our Safety, Health and Environmental Policy, which reflects our commitment to:

Safety Performance

2018 2017 2016 2015
Days Away Case Rate .96 1.03 0.91 1.21
DART Rate 1.67 1.96 1.91 1.90
Total Recordable Rate 2.76 2.99 2.96 3.45

Safety is in everything we do. Training takes place at every facility, every year, and we require reporting of all incidents. Across our global footprint, our employees conducted 13,016 proactive safety observations.

Together, our efforts drove across-the-board improvements for 2018. We are not at Zero, but we are making progress to get there. In fact, our safety results worldwide showed that our team achieved the best safety performance in company history as measured by our lowest total recordable incident rate (TRIR). In 2018, our TRIR was 2.76, a 7 percent improvement over 2017. Making our Zero Harm culture a reality, 40 percent (19 out of 47) of our operating locations had no recordable injuries in 2018. Highlights of our safety strategy include:

Seven Rules to Save a Life

Our Zero Harm culture drives a multitude of benefits, but there is one that clearly rises above the rest: saving lives. We began an effort in 2016 to identify the most critical and important rules aimed at preventing serious injuries. A cross-functional group of employees from across the company’s business lines and geographies gathered to study accident data and coordinate on-site observations. The committee landed on seven globally applicable Life Saving Rules that we began introducing to employees in 2017 and made effective as of January 1, 2019.

As a starting point in this journey, we trained all Koppers employees on the new Life Saving Fules and empowered each person in our company to stop work whenever they observe or suspect a deviation from our Life Saving Rules. To fully leverage the teachable moments this program brings to light, we launch a full investigation into any Life Saving Rule deviation, whether or not it resulted in a reportable incident. The rules are built on a simple foundational belief: we simply do not accept any employee or person in our facilities being exposed to a life-threatening hazard exposure – when one is suspected, we suspend work until we deem the activity to be safe.

Cultivating our Zero Harm / Zero Waste Culture

Leadership’s role in promoting our culture is essential. One hallmark of how we live our culture is through our Zero Harm / Zero Waste Leadership Forum. Leaders from across our global footprint, including plant managers, come together for in-person idea-sharing. This event serves as an opportunity to facilitate meaningful interactions among our global workforce as it relates to the continued improvement in our safety, environmental and sustainability management. It also provides a platform to recognize our teams and employees who demonstrated exceptional safety and environmental leadership. CEO Leroy Ball leads and participates in this week-long gathering that is filled with hands-on exercises, presentations and activities that are aimed at developing our top leaders further to engage with employees toward the goal of operating our business within a culture of Zero Harm to our employees, the environment and the communities where we operate.

Recognition is also a key enabler of Zero Harm. Koppers established new criteria for our President’s Award in 2018 to encourage teams to be proactive in addressing potential safety and environmental issues. Employees from Koppers Railroad Structures business unit, who regularly handle complex situations in remote construction environments, embraced the opportunity to enhance their safety procedures and implemented new onboarding, training and peer observation processes, driving the largest year-to-year reduction in reportable incidents for a business unit. Koppers Railroad Structures was also awarded the Safety Award of Excellence by the Wisconsin chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Incorporated for their 2018 safety achievements.

Finally, Koppers accelerates innovation and fosters collaboration through its iShare portal, which allows all employees to submit new ideas that create value for the company. iShare taps our most important resource – our employees – to identify areas of improvement that align with one of the following areas of our corporate strategy: Zero Harm, Growth Opportunity and Operational Excellence. All submitted ideas are evaluated and scored by site teams made up of three to five representatives. Ideas determined to merit further investigation are approved to receive additional resources for development and implementation.

Reflecting our employees’ commitment to Zero Harm, 88 percent of submissions are related to safety, health or the environment. Some of the innovative ideas generated by the program include substituting spray paint used to mark railroad ties with a more environmentally acceptable mixture of water and food coloring, and using drones to inspect bridges and rail cars, which allows employees to complete their work while reducing exposure to safety hazards.   

To drive additional participation in the iShare program, employees can earn reward points for using the site – redeemable for prizes, company-branded items or gift cards – and receive recognition through virtual badges, on-site events and more. Company and facility leadership can also use iShare to issue challenges based on special events (such as Earth Day) or other areas of importance. One such challenge resulted in employees designing and building a prototype tool for reducing hazard exposure while off-loading railcars. The tool is being fabricated for wider use inside of Koppers.

Modeled For Success

After years of planning, Koppers opened a new, state-of-the-art naphthalene facility connected to the company’s existing coal tar distillation facility in Stickney, Illinois. These interconnected processes previously took place at separate facilities across the country, with materials physically transported via truck, rail and barge from one location to another. The new facility eliminated the need for this transport, eliminating 4,000 trips per year and their related emissions. The new plant also has advanced emission controls and technology.

Key to the new facility’s success was an innovative design program, which included the creation of three-dimensional models viewed in virtual augmented reality that allowed employees to provide feedback before the facility was built. Later in the process, the models were used to facilitate training and safety programs – before construction was even complete. This allowed on-site employees to start with experience and confidence on their first day.

Environmental Management and Certifications

At Koppers, effective environmental management is a principle that we observe at all of our locations around the world. We have processes, procedures and systems in place to help us manage our environmental performance, and we maintain several internationally recognized certifications dedicated to environmental responsibility and health.

Environmental Performance

We are proud of our employees’ efforts to reduce our impact on the environment. In 2018, we continued our trend of greenhouse gas and energy usage reductions. Greenhouse gas emissions decreased 48 percent, and energy usage declined 41 percent, respectively, from our 2012 baseline.

Environmental Measurements

Reportable Releases
We are proud of our efforts to keep reportable releases as low as possible, while acknowledging we must continue working towards our goal of Zero occurrences.

  2018 2017 2016 2015
North America 10 2 9 14
International 2 8 0 7
Total 12 10 9 21

Water Permit Limit Exceedance
Our employees are driven and focused on the safe and efficient operations of our facilities.

  2018 2017 2016
North America 4 2 4
International 1 4 3
Total 5 6 7

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Our greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 48 percent since 2012. We are proud of our employees’ consistent efforts to improve our environmental performance.

(in MT CO2e) 2018 2017 2016 2015
North America 323,255 311,865 337,641 432,535
Europe 30,475 30,149



Australia/New Zealand 33,461 37,783 42,286 36,852
China 16,157 27,767 33,896 52,859
Total 403,348 407,564 443,963 561,172

Energy Consumption
Our energy consumption has decreased by 41 percent across our global footprint since 2012.

(in gigajoules) 2018 2017 2016 2015
Direct (Primary) 3,573,314 3,641,860 3,795,424 4,242,103
Indirect (Purchased) 588,882 762,278 1,126,198 1,110,213
Total 4,162,196 4,404,138 4,921,622 5,352,316

Floating Wetlands

Looking ahead at an important project for 2019, our team is conducting a storm water management pilot project that will introduce a floating wetland as a means to reduce suspended solids, organics and metals in storm water discharges. The floating wetland will include native plantings that will act to slow and filter the storm water flows coming from one of our facility grounds. This design has significant potential to positively increase the effectiveness of our storm water management efforts across many of our facilities. If proven successful, the new design will be implemented in other facilities to lessen our overall impact on local ecosystems.