January, 2021

This is a repeating event

202129JanAll DayWest Pharmaceutical Services Dust Explosion 2003West Pharmaceutical Services Kinston (US-NC) Origin: CSB Lessons:Compliance with Standards,Process KnowledgeIndustry:Plastics & PolymersCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Operator errorIncident:Dust explosionHazard:FlammableCause:HousekeepingImpact:HUMAN (On Site Fatalities)Consequence:1-10 FatalitiesMaterial:PolyethyleneTopic:Combustible Dust

Summary

On January 29, 2003, an explosion and fire destroyed the West Pharmaceutical Services plant in Kinston, North Carolina, causing six deaths, dozens of injuries, and hundreds of job losses. The facility produced rubber stoppers and other products for medical use. The fuel for the explosion was a fine plastic powder, which accumulated above a suspended ceiling over a manufacturing area at the plant and ignited.

KEY ISSUES:
• HAZARD RECOGNITION & COMMUNICATION
• GOOD ENGINEERING PRACTICE
• LOCAL AMENDMENTS TO FIRE CODES

ROOT CAUSES:
1. West did not perform adequate engineering assessment of the use of powdered zinc stearate and polyethylene as antitack agents in the rubber batchoff process.
2. West engineering management systems did not ensure that relevant industrial fire safety standards were consulted.
3. West management systems for reviewing material safety data sheets did not identify combustible dust hazards.
4. The Kinston plant’s hazard communication program did not identify combustible dust hazards or make the workforce aware of such.


Image Credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

Time

Fri 29 Jan 2021 - Fri 29 Jan 2021

Location

West Pharmaceutical Services

West Pharmaceutical Services, 1028 Innovation Way, Kinston, NC 28504, United States

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