The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has fined Tesla for four safety violations at its Fremont factory. The incident in question involves a serious injury suffered by an employee who became trapped in a Model Y during a quality inspection earlier this year.
Tesla is currently contesting these citations and fines, as confirmed by the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board in Sacramento.
According to documents obtained through a California Public Records Act request, Tesla neglected to ensure the disconnection of power to a conveyor belt during quality inspections. This failure led to an employee being stuck in a car when its open door collided with a fixed vertical gate at the Fremont plant in April. (via Bloomberg)
Cal/OSHA proposed a substantial $18,000 fine for what it deemed a “serious” violation. Although Tesla reportedly addressed the issue between April and October, the regulatory body insisted on imposing the fine. Another $18,000 penalty was slapped on Tesla for its failure to maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program. Additionally, two smaller fines of $1,000 each were issued for “general” violations at the plant.
The Cal/OSHA documents do not disclose the nature of the “serious” injury suffered by the trapped worker, nor do they reveal the identity of the employee or whether she continues to work for Tesla. The safety violations also include Tesla’s failure to keep the factory floor free from obstructions, which could cause workers to trip, and the absence of written procedures to control “hazardous energy” during machinery-related activities.
This incident comes at a time when the United Auto Workers (UAW) is actively seeking support among Tesla’s California workforce and employees in other non-unionized factories. Historically, UAW has emphasized its commitment to advocating for safer working conditions, putting Tesla’s safety practices under intense scrutiny.
Tesla has consistently defended its safety record however, stating that its incident rates are below the industry average. However, in 2019, California safety agency officials accused Tesla of omitting hundreds of injuries from its annual summary data submitted to the government.