- The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has opened two new investigations of alleged safety violations at the Fremont, California factory of automaker Tesla, Business Insider reports, bringing the total number of open investigations at the factory to six.
- Previously, Cal/OSHA handed Tesla a $1,000 fine in August: $400 for failure to report a worker's injury and $600 for failure to remove an extension chord from the factory floor, according to the report. The most recent investigations involve two complaints to Cal/OSHA, the first after a forklift allegedly pushed two garbage bins together, trapping a contract worker. The second is looking into claims a contract worker's fingers got caught in a torque gun. Cal/OSHA received the reports in late August and opened the investigations on Sept. 4 and 5, respectively, Business Insider said.
- In a statement to Business Insider, a Tesla spokesperson said the company plans to appeal the $400 fine assessed in August because it claims to have correctly reported the injury in question. "We care deeply about the well-being of our employees and we will continue to work with them until we have the safest factory in the world," the spokesperson said.
Tesla has been dealing with allegations of poor worker treatment and safety violations at its Fremont facility since at least February 2017, when an employee complained of long hours to meet production demands in addition to hazardous conditions putting workers at risk of preventable injuries. The same employee, Jose Moran, claimed that a group of Tesla employees had entered unionization talks with the United Auto Workers.
In September 2017, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Tesla to respond to complaints of unfair labor activities and interfering with labor activity. The company's CEO, Elon Musk, denied Moran's criticisms, calling them "outright false."
HR leaders can work internally to address cultural problems that can potentially cause safety violations (and, particularly for media-focused organizations like Tesla, brand issues). For manufacturing organizations, this means ensuring a safe environment for workers and abiding by regulations. A clear line of communication between employees, managers and HR is a critical first step in handling complaints.