Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) was fined $89,000 by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for 7 safety violations and 6 are considered “serious” due to a workplace incident that injured and burned 3 workers in November. The employees at Tesla’s Fremont factory were injured on November 13th when a low-pressure aluminum casting press failed and spilled hot metal on the works and caused their clothing to catch on fire.
“Molten metal was released splattering the three victims, the victims’ clothing caught fire, they stopped and rolled on the floor,” stated a Cal-OSHA report that was released yesterday. “The safety department called 911. The Fremont Fire Department arrived within 10 minutes, approximately.”
Tesla’s employees Jesus Navarro, Kevin Carter and Jorge Terrazas were taken to the Valley Medical Center in San Jose with second- and third-degree burns. Carter and Terrazas returned to work, but Navarro was hospitalized for 20 days because he had burns on his hands, stomach, hip, lower back and ankles. Navarro is healing at home now. The Cal-OSHA investigation found that Tesla failed to make sure that the low-pressure die casting machine was maintained in a safe operating condition and allowed employees to operate the machine while the safety interlock was broken.
The investigation also found that the employees had not been properly trained regarding the machine hazards. They were not wearing the required eye and face protection.
Tesla builds the all-electric Model S sedan at the Fremont factory. Tesla Motors took ownership of the former NUMMI plant in October 2010 and transformed a portion of the rundown auto plant into a solid manufacturing facility. Internally the plant is called “Tesla Factory.”
“We take safety extremely seriously and have taken numerous steps to ensure nothing like it happens again,” said Tesla in a statement. “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.”
Tesla said that it is worth noting that the accident rate at the Fremont factory is nearly twice as good as the automotive industry average, according to the recent Bureau of Labor data.