California regulators open another investigation into Tesla's factory after getting a report that an employee had part of a finger amputated during a workplace accident

  • California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has opened an inspection into Tesla’s Fremont factory for the third time this month, an agency representative told Business Insider.
  • The latest inspection was opened Tuesday following a report made to the agency Friday of an accident in which a Tesla employee had part of a finger amputated while moving a rack of windshields onto a conveyor.
  • A representative of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health says the agency now has seven open inspections into Tesla.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has opened an inspection into Tesla’s Fremont factory for the third time this month, an agency representative told Business Insider.

The latest inspection was opened Tuesday following a report made to the agency Friday of an accident in which a Tesla employee had part of a finger amputated while moving a rack of windshields onto a conveyor. The agency, also known as Cal-OSHA, did not say when the reported injury occurred. A Cal-OSHA representative says the agency now has seven open inspections into Tesla.

A Tesla representative gave the following statement to Business Insider:

“This incident occurred when an employee’s finger was caught while attempting to load parts into a lifter. The employee was immediately attended to by our Environmental Health and Safety team, received the necessary medical care, and is now recovering. We proactively reported the incident to Cal-OSHA, and we’re working closely with them to investigate the exact cause and make any necessary improvements. We care deeply about the well-being of our employees, and as our injury rate continues to decline, we will keep working with them until we have the safest factories in the world.”

The first of Cal-OSHA’s three September inspections into Tesla’s Fremont factory was opened September 4 and was prompted by an incident reported to the agency in which a contract worker became stuck between two garbage bins after a forklift pushed one of the bins. The incident was reported to regulators on August 30, but the agency did not say when the incident occurred.

The second was opened September 5 and came after an incident reported to the agency in which a contract worker’s fingers were caught in a torque gun. According to the agency, the incident occurred August 24 and was reported to regulators on August 31.

A Tesla representative said in a statement to Business Insider last week that the company had implemented a new system for tracking safety incidents and had moved to promote the rapid identification and prevention of safety issues, including encouraging employees to report injury symptoms early and working with athletic trainers to identify and fix areas on the production line that could lead to repetitive-motion injuries.

Tesla employees told Business Insider in an August report that the company had improved its workplace safety, particularly over the past year.

In a September 7 email to employees that was posted to the company’s website, CEO Elon Musk announced that Laurie Shelby, the company’s vice president of environmental, health, and safety, would report directly to him and said worker safety was a priority.

“Your safety and just generally making sure that you love coming to work is extremely important,” he said, adding: “We are working hardcore on having the safest (and most fun) work environment in the automotive industry by far.”

Concerns about workplace safety have been a point of controversy for Tesla. A report from the Fremont Police Department, received by Business Insider, listed more than 300 calls made to 911 from the Fremont factory from January 2016 to March 2018 for a variety of reported reasons including trespassing and suicide threats. Eleven of the calls included reports of accidents, six of which included reports of accidents with “no visible injury.”

During the same period, nine 911 calls were made from General Motors’ factory in Lake Orion, Michigan, which produces the electric Chevy Bolt EV. The calls included reports of accidents and a trash fire.

In February, a post on Tesla’s website written by Shelby said the company’s “total recordable incident rate” had fallen by 25% since 2016 and was in line with the industry average. Shelby also outlined steps Tesla had taken to better manage and prevent workplace injuries.

But an April report from The Center for Investigative Reporting said Tesla had misreported workplace injuries, avoided some safety markings for aesthetic reasons, and insufficiently trained some employees for dangerous work. The investigative-journalism outlet said it interviewed more than three dozen current and former Tesla employees and reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, including internal records and correspondence related to injury reporting.

Tesla denied the allegations in the report and called it “a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here.”

Read more about what it’s like to work at Tesla:

  • 70-hour weeks and ‘WTF’ emails: 42 employees reveal the frenzy of working at Tesla under the ‘cult’ of Elon Musk
  • Tesla employees describe what it’s like to work in the gigantic Gigafactory
  • Tesla SolarCity employees say they were left in the dark about pay and didn’t know when the solar roof would actually arrive
  • Some Tesla employees are disappointed that Elon Musk isn’t taking the company private: ‘We have so much external pressure’
  • Elon Musk works so many hours at Tesla, employees are constantly finding him asleep under tables and desks
  • Elon Musk is known for sending emails that simply say ‘WTF’ — and an insider says they cause ‘huge scrambles’ at Tesla

Get the latest Tesla stock price here.

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