Thursday, July 17, 2003

NC OSHA Cites West Pharmaceutical for Dust Explosion that Killed Six

North Carolina OSHA fined West Pharmaceutical $100,000 for a dust explosion that killed six employees last January. West has also agreed to contribute $300,000 to organizations that provided assistance during the tragedy.

West officials were not happy.
Company officials felt the fine was unjustified. "We're clearly disappointed OSHA chose to give us a citation and a proposed penalty. We believe we did not violate the NC OSHA Act as alleged. And further more, we believe that if we chose to contest the citations, we would prevail," said company chairman Don Morel.
Yeah, go ahead and contest it. That will win you lots of good will in the community.

The orginal citation was for $602,000. As part of the agreement, which included the $300,000 contribution, West Pharmaceuticals denied it violated the act.

"The first issue had to do with combustible dust. The second issue had to do with electrical equipment,” said Kevin Beauregard, NC Department of Labor. “And the third issue had to do with employee training."
At a public hearing last month, the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released preliminary findings that West Pharmaceutical Services created conditions for the deadly blast at its Kinston plant by installing a suspended ceiling that allowed explosive dust to build up out of sight. More here.