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Tesla fined $89,000 for "serious" safety violations at Fremont plant

by Drew Johnson

Tesla is facing $89,000 in fines for a November accident.

Safety violations that led to a November accident at its Fremont, California, production facility will cost Tesla Motors $89,000 in fines, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health ruled this week.

The California division of OSHA cited Tesla with a total of seven safety violations, six of which were considered "serious,” for a November 13 accident that seriously injured three workers. The incident occurred when a low-pressure aluminum casting press failed, spilling molten metal on the workers.

"Molten metal was released splattering the three victims, the victims' clothing caught fire, they stopped and rolled on the floor," Cal-OSHA wrote in the report, which was obtained by the San Jose Mercury News. "The safety department called 911. The Fremont Fire Department arrived within 10 minutes, approximately."

All three employees involved in the accident suffered second- and third-degree burns. Two of the employees have since returned to work, while the third is still recuperating after sustaining burns across his hands, stomach, hip, lower back and ankles.

OSHA ruled that poor maintenance and a broken safety interlock caused the accident. OSHA also found that Tesla didn't properly train the employees on the equipment and didn't enforce a policy that required eye and face protection.

Tesla plans to appeal the fines.

"We take safety extremely seriously and have taken numerous steps to ensure nothing like it happens again," the company said 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 also states, citing Bureau of Labor data, that its safety record at the Fremont plant "is nearly twice as good as the automotive industry average.”

Tesla purchased the Fremont plant in late 2010. Now home to the Model S, the plant was formerly a joint-venture facility between Toyota and General Motors.