Accident: West Pharmaceutical Services Dust Explosion and Fire
Location: Location: Kinston, NC
Accident Occurred On: 01/29/2003 | Final Report Released On: 09/23/2004
Accident Type: Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire
Investigation Status: The Board voted 4-0 to approve the final report on this investigation at a public meeting in Kinston on September 23, 2004.
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.
Modify the material safety data sheet for manufactured polyethylene
antitack agents to include hazards posed by the end-use
of the product.
Amend Chapter 13, Section 1304, of the International Fire Code
(as adopted by the North Carolina Fire Code) to make compliance
with NFPA 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust
Explosions From the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of
Combustible Particulate Solids, mandatory.
Incorporate the provisions of NFPA 654, Standard for the
Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions From the Manufacturing,
Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids, into
the training program for State and local building and fire code
Identify the manufacturing industries at risk for combustible dust explosions, and develop and conduct an outreach program on combustible dust hazards.
Revise policies and procedures for new material safety
reviews. In particular:
Use the most recent versions of material safety data
sheets (MSDSs) and other technical hazard information.
Fully identify the hazardous characteristics of new
materials, including relevant physical and chemical
properties, to ensure that those characteristics are incorporated into safety practices, as appropriate.
Include an engineering element that identifies and
addresses the potential safety implications of new
materials on manufacturing processes.
Develop and implement policies and procedures for safety
reviews of engineering projects. In particular:
Address the hazards of individual materials and equipment?
and their effect on entire processes and facilities.
Consider hazards during the conceptual design phase, as
well as during engineering and construction phases.
Cover all phases of the project, including engineering and
construction performed by outside firms.
Identify and consider applicable codes and standards in
Identify West manufacturing facilities that use combustible dusts. Ensure that they incorporate applicable safety precautions described in NFPA 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions From the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids. In particular: Ensure that penetrations of partitions, floors, walls, and ceilings are sealed dust-tight. Ensure that spaces inaccessible to housekeeping are sealed to prevent dust accumulation.
Improve hazard communication programs so that the
hazards of combustible dust are clearly identified and communicated to the workforce. In particular, ensure that the
most current MSDSs are in use and that employees receive
training on the revised/updated information.
Communicate the findings and recommendations of this
report to the West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc., workforce.