It seems Tesla is facing yet another issue despite being the in the start of the year. Basically, penalties coming from regulators in California are highlighting new questions pertaining to the company’s workplace safety. These concerns specifically target the vehicle production facilities located in Fremont, as reported by Business Insider.
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) in California reportedly inspected GA4. The latter refers to an assembly line that the car manufacturer built in an open-air structure just outside its main factory. The construction only took less than a month, particularly between the months of June and December.
Apparently, though, the agency did not disclose the number of times it visited the aforementioned Tesla facility. From there, it issued penalties for around six violations of the state’s labor regulations. The citations, in particular, resulted in hefty fines that summed up to $29,365.
According to the above-mentioned agency, Tesla failed to obtain a permit just before the construction of GA4. It also failed to inspect the facility, which would help in determining the different safety hazards. In addition, the electric vehicle manufacturer did not either cover or guard an opening in the floor of the facility.
The government agency further added that Tesla was unsuccessful in training enough employees to help evacuate workers from the building in case an emergency is to occur. The same thing can be said when it comes to the prevention of heat illness. Lastly, the company failed to protect its workers from being exposed to metal rods and rebar, both of which posed a significant “hazard of impalement.”
As expected, the company appealed to all of the citations from the agency. It clarified that it did not really violate the regulation and, at the same time, the deemed the corresponding fee as nothing but unreasonable.
According to Tesla’s very own president of environmental, healthy, and safety named Laurie Shelby, there is simply nothing more important to her or even the company than the safety and well-being of the workers. Shelby added that the EHS team – alongside the help of operational leaders – have been deeply focused on the facility. And this has been the narrative for the past six months.
Shelby revealed that they have always been implementing safety protocols, all of which have covered throughout the new line. Not only did these keep the company in compliance with all current standards, but they also greatly reduce the risks to employees.
The executive further added that the OSHA inspection did not necessarily result from any injury or incident whatsoever. Neither did any of these occur during the construction stages of the project. Tesla, according to Shelby, will challenge these findings concerning safety conditions that were said to be present during the construction of the facility.
A professor at the University of Michigan named Thomas Armstrong said that the violations mentioned by the agency are not really surprising. According to him, this is due to the fact that Tesla’s speed in building the facility is quite exceptional. However, the violations mentioned did not really suggest that the company’s facility is completely unsafe.
For Armstrong, who is also known for working alongside different auto manufacturing companies, the violations merely referred to Tesla’s failures for taking and/or implementing preventive measures. The professor basically lends support to auto companies in order to help them make their processes more geared towards an ergonomically friendly surrounding.
The professor also suggested that the violations are not, contrary to popular belief, “endorsement” for the safety culture of Tesla. Still, it does not necessarily mean that the company is not operating at a safety level at all. He added that these violations are common in the auto industry. And as far as the fine is concerned, it is simply “a slap on the wrist.”
It holds true that concerns about workplace safety are not unique to Tesla, especially since these have been present in other industries. However, the company cannot deny the fact that there have been countless injury statistics and/or reports that have raised questions about its worker safety at many of its factories.
Take for example a 2017 report, which came directly from an advocacy group called Worksafe. According to the report, the injury rate at the company’s factory in Fremont was about 31 percent higher when compared to the industry average in the years 2015 and 2016.