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Tesla responds after new investigative report questions workers’ safety

After clashing with Tesla last month over the electric car maker’s alleged mislabeling of workplace accidents, Reveal is now citing nine “serious” safety citations directed at the Elon Musk-led company, amounting to $110,863 in fines. In lieu of the new report, Tesla has responded with a statement, stating that it would be filing an appeal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to contest the fine.  

According to the publication, the accident in question pertained to an employee working in one of the solar energy projects Tesla inherited from SolarCity — a 19-acre solar power system located at the Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. On December 29, 2017, an employee suffered shock and burn injuries after entering a 13,800-volt electrical panel and taking photos of the equipment with his cellphone. According to a spokesperson from the college, the employee was transported by ambulance and taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and later released.

The Reveal report stated that regulators found that Tesla did not give enough training or provide the correct equipment for the injured employee. A citation for the allegations further claimed that Tesla did not conduct enough inspections for the facility.

Tesla has released a response to Reveal’s latest report. In a statement to the publication, the electric car maker noted that the company had investigated the incident. Tesla further stated that since recovering from his injuries, the employee had returned to work. The electric car company also noted that it would be filing an appeal with the OSHA.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of those who work at Tesla every day. After this accident happened, we did a thorough investigation and learned that the employee was performing work on a piece of equipment that he was not authorized or tasked to work on. He was treated immediately, has since recovered from his injury and has been back working at Tesla for the last few months.”

“It’s worth noting that we’ve never had another incident like this in the more than 250,000 service appointments at SolarCity and Tesla Energy.”

One of SolarCity’s competitors, Vivint Solar, was previously fined $136,708 by OSHA back in November 2017. In February 2017, Vivint Solar was also fined $126,749. After an appeal to the OSHA, however, Vivint was able to reduce its sanction to just $50,000.

In a statement to Reveal, Hampshire College spokesman John Courtmanche stated that the accident had not placed any strain on the college’s relationship with the Elon Musk-led company.

“We have a very good relationship with Tesla. I think we see it as an accident,” Courtmanche said.

Prolific safety violations among American automakers have been reported over the years. Back in 2015, the NHTSA gave General Motors a fine of $900 million over motor vehicle safety violations — the veteran automaker’s costliest sanction to date. The OSHA, the same regulators that fined Tesla, also gave GM a $185,040 sanction back in 2000 over workplace safety/health violations in its now-retired Willow Run Powertrain facility.

Tesla has been open about its intentions of becoming the operators of the safest car factory in the world. Back in February, Tesla VP for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Laurie Shelby published a blog post outlining the company’s adoption of a proactive stance when it comes to workplace safety, which would enable Tesla to address possible concerns even before an incident happens. Shelby also outlined improvements in the company’s Return to Work program, as well as additional safety training for employees.

Tesla responds after new investigative report questions workers’ safety
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