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article imageTesla fined $29,365 for violating California labor laws

By Ken Hanly     Jan 27, 2019 in Business
Fremont - The EV maker Tesla has had a fine of $29,365 imposed on it for violating California labor laws in its parking lot tent, GA4, where the company has been assembling the popular Model 3.
The fines were imposed by California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA)
The six violations
According to Business Week the six violations were:
Obtain a permit prior to building GA4
Inspect GA4 for potential safety hazards
Cover or guard an opening in the floor of GA4 that was 22 inches wide, 14 inches long, and 8-inches deep
Train enough employees to help evacuate workers from the facility in the event of an emergency
Properly train employees to prevent and respond to heat illness
Protect workers from exposed metal rods and rebar that posed a "hazard of impalement"
Laurie Shelby, Tesla's vice-president of environmental, health, and safety said that the company would challenge the findings and fine: “Nothing is more important to me or to Tesla than the health and well-being of our employees. My EHS team and operational leaders have been intently focused on [the tent assembly line] over the past six months, implementing safety protocols throughout the new line that not only keep Tesla in compliance with existing standards but also reduce risks to associates.”
Shelby also claims that the inspections were not a result of any incident or injury, and that Cal-OSHA performed them while the tent was still under construction. The report claims that the incidents cover the period between June and December last year so surely there must have been more than an inspection before the tent was fully built.
The Tesla tent at Fremont California
The assembly tent was set up in a parking lot outside the Tesla factory in Fremont California in the summer of 2018. It was intended to boost production of Model 3s to thousands per week. The idea was a huge departure from by-the-books automotive manufacturing. However, it increased production of the Model 3s by 50 percent helping to meet CEO Elon Musk's production targets. According to Musk it not only helped the company avoid death but to reach its first profitable quarter in two years. It still has not had a yearly profit.
Tesla has had safety problems in the past
Tesla has been accused of workplace safety issues repeatedly before. Cal-OSHA is reported to be running multiple investigations of the company. Recently, the on-site health clinic has been accused of underreporting injuries. Tesla said that in 2017 its injury rate dropped by 25 percent. In 2018 it claimed that the rate had dropped further, but without specifying how much.
Thomas Armstrong, a professor at the University of Michigan said that the violations were not surprising as Tesla built the facility, GA4, very quickly, but said the violations do not necessarily mean that the facility is unsafe,
Tesla is no stranger to fines nor is Elon Musk, as each paid fines of $20 million in the past.
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