The industrial accident last November at Tesla’s Fremont facility where its Model S electric car is made has led to the electric automaker being fined $89,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor.
At the time, the incident, described by Tesla as an “industrial accident,” occurred when a low-pressure aluminum casing machine failed, spraying molten metal onto the clothing of three Tesla employees, igniting some of their clothing and ultimately causing second and third-degree burns.
As a result of the accident and subsequent investigation, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued Tesla with the $89,000 in fines for violation of seven safety violations at its Fremont facility. Six of which were considered ‘serious.’
In the paperwork accompanying the citation — which you can see here and here — Tesla is charged with failing to ensure that the low-pressure aluminum casting machine was correctly maintained, as well as allowing its staff to operate the machinery when a safety interlock designed to prevent injury was broken.
Alarmingly, the citation also claims some of the staff using the machine were not correctly trained by Tesla, and were not wearing appropriate face and eye protection at the time of the incident.
While the report issued by the Cal-OSHA does say the three workers involved stopped, dropped and rolled to extinguish the flames and a crew from the Fremont Fire Department arrived within ten minutes of the incident to tend to the injured, it highlights what it calls a “hazardous situation for three employees.”
Immediately following the incident in November, the three injured workers were taken to the Valley Medical Centre in San Jose for medical attention. One was released a short while later, while his two colleagues were kept in overnight for observation. The following day, one of the remaining workers was released from hospital, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised the best possible medical care for the one remaining injured worker in an official statement.
That worker, a Jesus Navarro, spent a total of twenty days in hospital following the accident due to burns on his hands, stomach, hip, lower back and ankles. While the other two staff have returned to work, Navarro is still recuperating at home.
In an official statement, Tesla said that it is planning to appeal the citations and fines because it believes “there are aspects of the citations that merit further discussion.”
“We take safety extremely seriously and have taken numerous steps to ensure nothing like it happens again,” Tesla said. “We fully shut down the low-pressure die casting operation and decommissioned the equipment. We provided the injured employees with dedicated HR support and maintained full pay beyond that provided by workers’ compensation.”
Continuing, Tesla added the “accident rate at our Fremont factory is nearly twice as good as the automotive industry average, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor data.”
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