Protection of People and the Environment


The continuous improvement of a safe work environment is both a high priority and a key component of Covestro’s corporate responsibility and corporate culture. Our primary goals include preventing injuries, disruptions at plants and accidents during transportation, as well as safeguarding the health of our employees in the workplace and during work-related activities. This also applies to partner companies (contractors) who work for our company within the scope of operational activities. Detailed rules and regular checks are instrumental in meeting these goals, as are safe production processes, plants and transportation. There is an equal focus on protecting the environment and the well-being of those who come into contact with our products. In addition, we continued the SafeGuard program, which allows us to address all aspects of safety of importance to Covestro in a comprehensive and global manner. Please continue reading for details on SafeGuard.

Occupational health and safety

An integrated information management system (IIMS) implemented throughout the Group exists for reporting and processing work incidents and potential hazards. The classification follows the U.S. OSHA Standard 1904 “Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness.” The IIMS makes it possible to identify trends in a timely manner so that corresponding short-term corrective and long-term improvement measures can be implemented if necessary. Covestro’s safety experts, supported by external expertise if needed, analyze the background circumstances and the consequences of an incident. The results of the root cause analysis conducted after an incident occurs and the corrective measures taken are published throughout the Group in order to raise employees’ safety awareness. As a result, everybody can better assess comparable hazards and situations as well as proactively remedy them.

Covestro processes workplace accidents involving the company’s own staff and contractors as part of the (RIR) and (LTRIR), as per OSHA 1904. This process involves determining a ratio of the number of all recordable incidents (RIR) or those with lost time (LTRIR) compared to the number of hours worked (standardized to 200,000 working hours per year).

We calculate the number of hours our employees work per year by multiplying the Group’s headcount by the average annual number of working hours at country level reported by the OECD or other valid sources.

The number of hours worked by our contractors is calculated using a methodology revised in October 2019 that includes various categories for recording working hours. These categories are broken down by electronic or manual timekeeping or are obtained using supplier invoices. The figure can also be calculated based on valid assumptions (estimates). At very small sites with fewer than 50 Covestro employees, no contractor working hours are counted, so these are not included in the RIR calculation. We apply controls and other measures at the global level as well as individual site level to prevent possible errors in calculating contractor working hours. Implementation of the new system will continue in 2020.

We continuously work to keep the incidence of accidents as low as possible in the future as well. In recent years, for example, we have developed a comprehensive plan to prevent accidents by contractor employees. It includes measures such as special safety programs for contractor employees and the consistent inclusion of outside companies in ongoing safety activities at our sites. In recent years, we have reached a safety plateau with our own employees. In other words, the accident figures as compared with the previous year show only minor positive or negative changes. We continued the SafeGuard program in 2019 with an eye to breaking through this plateau and ushering in a long-term positive trend. Continuation of the program will help us work toward zero accidents.

In 2019, we again used a defined set of criteria with regard to an event’s potential in order to evaluate events which could have led to a High Potential Event (HPE) under other circumstances. These events classified as HPEs are thus treated as comparable with events that have actually occurred; they require a detailed cause analysis and must be communicated. Promoting safety awareness among employees is essential for minimizing hazards during day-to-day operations. A training program based on the experiences of the airline industry, Team Resource Management Training, was developed in 2019 and provided a new way to enhance employee awareness of safety issues. It concentrates on nontechnical skills that affect human behavior and collaboration by teams, including situational awareness, decision-making, communication and stress management.

Furthermore, the CEO Safety Award was awarded for the eleventh time. All employees were once again called upon to submit suggestions for improving safety. The ideas submitted were evaluated by a jury of in-house experts, and Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann presented awards to the winners at the global Covestro Safety Day in September 2019.

Process and plant safety

We aim to ensure the safety of processes and plants in a way that avoids unacceptable risks to our employees, our neighbors and the environment. We therefore conduct extensive, systematic safety inspections at regular intervals. A globally standardized key performance indicator (KPI), (LoPC), applies to all Covestro plants and is an early indicator integrated into Group-wide safety reporting.

In 2019, Covestro implemented the German Chemical Industry Association’s (Verband der Chemischen Industrie, ) November 2017 guidelines on documenting plant safety performance indicators. The new reporting criteria are therefore aligned with the updated and globally harmonized definition by the ICCA (International Council of Chemical Associations). A LoPC event comprises

  • the release of chemicals classified according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) within one hour of exceeding the defined volume thresholds;
  • a reportable injury according to OSHA criteria to an employee or contractor as a result of product release or the release of energy;
  • the release of energy (e.g., fire, explosion) that leads to damage with direct costs totaling more than €2,500;
  • an evacuation officially declared outside the plant.

We use the LoPC incident rate (LoPC IR) to determine the number of incidents per 200,000 working hours per year by Covestro employees and contractors. The considerably lowered volume thresholds mean that less significant incidents will now also be systematically documented and investigated as LoPC events. As expected, this led to an increase in the LoPC IR from 0.35 in the previous year to 0.66 currently, according to the new definition.

Every LoPC incident as well as minor and near-miss incidents are carefully analyzed to determine their causes, and the results and corrective actions taken are publicized throughout the Group. The criteria (e.g. very low threshold or nonhazardous substance releases) were selected so that even releases of substances or energy that have no impact on employees, neighbors or the environment are systematically recorded. This contributes to maintaining the integrity of our facilities. The global exchange of experiences relevant to safety are intended to help maintain the existing high standard of procedural and plant safety within the company. Globally binding standard processes and their uniform implementation also contribute to this effort, which has led to the rollout of a mandatory IT application for technical change management at key production sites.

Environmental and transportation safety

Next to the continuous improvement of process and plant safety and safety in the workplace, we are constantly working on making the transportation of our products safer. We report all incidents at all sites operated by Covestro worldwide in line with our internal directives. These are documented according to defined criteria such as quantity of loss of containment, material hazard class, degree of personal injury and blocked transportation routes. In the case of hazardous materials, we voluntarily record and categorize all leaks starting with as little as 50 kilograms. Global events on transportation safety are held at regular intervals. Here, corrective measures are developed and implemented based on actual incidents and tried-and-tested approaches are exchanged.

Supplementary information

Part of the supplementary sustainability information (not form part of the statutory audit of the annual financial statements)

Safety and incident prevention

Our safety management systems comply with globally applicable requirements and standards. We continue to consistently refine our safety management efforts in line with our corporate culture. We focus not only on the safety and health of our employees at work every day, but also on preventing potential environmental and health impacts as a result of leaks from production facilities or accidents while transporting hazardous goods and other materials. Our integrated management system plays a key part in achieving these goals.

In the long term, we aim to prevent workplace accidents and occupational illnesses entirely. This is why we regularly analyze incident rates by site, by region and by incident hotspots. The fluctuations we observe provide an indication of the structural differences that need to be discussed with the sites and business units when analyzing, then deciding on and adapting measures to local requirements.

Avoiding hazards

Maintenance and inspections as well as technical alterations frequently necessitate potentially dangerous work. Such work is carried out during planned system downtimes – either individually or as a bundle of changes – and is organized using work permits. In addition to a detailed description of the work to be done, these include an assessment of the hazards and an outline of the required safety and protective measures. Everyone involved in the work is informed of this and must sign to confirm they have received this information. The responsible plant and technical operatives involved – plus additional safety officers, if necessary – monitor compliance with the measures and the safe performance of the work.

RIR/recordable incident rate
Total number of workplace accidents per 200,000 working hours
LTRIR/lost time recordable incident rate
Rate of the reportable workplace accidents to days of absence
LoPC/loss of primary containment
Leaks of chemicals in amounts above defined thresholds leaking from their primary containers, such as pipelines, pumps, tanks and drums
VCI/Verband der chemischen Industrie – German Chemical Industry Association
German chemical industry association
LoPC/loss of primary containment
Leaks of chemicals in amounts above defined thresholds leaking from their primary containers, such as pipelines, pumps, tanks and drums
HSEQ/health, safety, environment, quality
Health, safety, environment and quality