Koppers enhances global SH&E compliance capability, reduces incident reporting time by 50%

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Courtesy of IHS

Koppers Inc. – producer of carbon compounds and treated wood products for the aluminum, steel, chemical, plastics, railroad and utility industries – backs its products with a strong global commitment to customers, employees, safety, health and the environment. So when the team at Koppers' Pittsburgh headquarters set out to improve environmental and safety reporting and compliance for business sustainability, they knew they had to meet that challenge not only at their 17 U.S. facilities but also throughout their international operations, serving customers on four continents. Information management was the key and ESS had the solution they needed.

'As our company grew, our need for information to be delivered quickly and accurately grew as well. We began looking for a system that could deliver information from our locations around the world in real time,' said Leslie Hyde, Vice President of Safety and Environmental Affairs.

Koppers previously managed its compliance data using dozens of different spreadsheets. 'Before, we had an environmental database and an accident database and we tracked compliance issues separately. We used various spreadsheets at the corporate and plant level to track statistics and compliance requirements. Nothing worked together. We needed a central depository for consistent, thorough and readily available information,' said Linda Paul, environmental manager at Koppers.

After a careful review of their business needs, Koppers selected ESS' Essential Suite software as their global environmental and safety compliance information system. 'Good data is essential to good decision making. We chose ESS because we wanted a system that could capture the data and allow us to manipulate it so that every manager has the data he or she needs at their fingertips,' said Hyde.

Faster, Better Reporting Reduces Risks

'Thanks to Essential Suite's incident management module, initial notification that incidents have occurred is now much faster and more thorough. We're capturing all of the critical incidents, such as spills and accidents, but also other important events such as agency visits, internal audits and inspections,' Paul said. 'Through the electronic incident alert notifications in the ESS system we also receive consistent and rapid notification to various management levels shortly after the incident occurs, improving the level of communication. This is a big improvement in our incident reporting,' Paul said.

'The new ESS system also promotes continuity at a facility when we have a change in Safety, Health & Environment (SH&E) personnel,' she continued. 'It minimizes the potential for gaps in our reporting. New personnel are able to use the basics of the incident reporting system with limited training. Entering the basics of an incident report for automatic notification to operations, SH&E, and management staff takes less than two minutes.'

Heath Huschak, Corporate Safety Manager at Koppers, says that, through the ease of safety reporting with Essential Suite, Koppers is now capturing information on more non-OSHAreportable incidents such as near-misses or first-aid only incidents that were often not submitted to the corporate office before. 'Now we have a much more comprehensive picture of the incidents that are actually occurring and we're able to see the trends earlier so we can be more proactive about preventing accidents,' Huschak said.

'The number of OSHA non-recordable events (near misses and first-aid cases) that are being reported has increased 300% from 2005 to 2007. That's not because more of these events are occurring at Koppers plants, but because the incident reporting system has been configured to facilitate reporting of these events,' said Huschak.

The ESS system has allowed Koppers to standardize two main elements of its incident investigation process: aspect/hazard identification and causal factor analysis consistent with its ISOcertified SH&E management system. When an incident occurs, the facility determines which aspect or hazard for a particular process unit has been implicated in the event. This allows Koppers to tally all incidents on a divisional or corporate basis related to a particular hazard and formalize new control methods to prevent future occurrences. The same standardization process is utilized during the documentation of causal factors. ESS has helped Koppers implement a drop-down list of acceptable cause codes from which the facility can choose in order to populate the incident's direct, contributing and root causes.

Koppers is also using ESS' Essential Water for collection of data associated with Clean Water Act permits. Consistency of data input is improving over time and Koppers will be able to track trends in storm water and pre-treatment system discharges through the ESS system more easily than through previous data collection mechanisms.

Saving Time with ESS Tools, ERM Expertise

'We estimate that we've achieved an overall 50% savings in the time required to prepare our monthly environment and safety report to management, thanks to ESS,' Hyde said. 'Essential Suite also helps us to manage our ISO14001 requirements more efficiently.' Hyde said. 'Maintaining that certification is important to our global strategy and vision for our company.'

'One of the main reasons we chose ESS was that it best met our needs out of the box with limited customization,' Paul said. 'ERM has done a great job in tailoring the system to our needs.' ERM has developed a main or 'Splash Page' with direct-links for the user to the most important forms and custom reports. ERM also integrated a change request system that allows a user to request certain database or report modifications electronically. Requests are distributed to an administration team for completion, which for most routine requests occurs within an hour.

Now that its new incident and wastewater systems are engaged, Koppers is moving ahead with implementation of other Essential Suite modules.

'Our long-term vision for the software is to have a powerful enterprise-wide SH&E management tool, capturing critical data for decision-making, helping us analyze trends and track our key performance indicators. That, combined with a well designed user interface and excellent reporting tools, will allow us to focus less on data and more on managing our global business in a sustainable, responsible way. After all, that's what our stakeholders expect from us,' said Hyde, 'and we intend to deliver.'

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