Minimum of 12 employees Rivian Automotive Inc. has accused the maker of electric-vehicles of safety violations According to federal regulators, the Illinois plant was closed. 

These complaints claim that the company ignored Prioritized hazards and known hazards safety Resources, some resources left workers You can share the respirators that were used in the manufacturing process. The documents also describe a variety of injuries including a crushed hand and broken foot. One Rivian Employee claimed that management took out the damaged cables from the trash and instructed employees to use them.

The filings show that the automaker cut corners while scaling rapidly to stay in the electric-vehicle market. Some employees described safety These protocols are now extinct production pressures grew On its iconic plug-in pickup truck. 

“There’s a certain level of danger involved in manufacturing,” Don Jackson, one the employees who filed the complaint, spoke in an interview. “But I was expecting safety to be a little more prioritized.”

Statements to Bloomberg News Rivian spokesperson disputed workers’ allegations but declined to comment on specific complaints, citing employee privacy. According to the spokesperson, the 12 complainants make up 0.2% of 6,700 workers at the plant.

“Creating a safe and inspiring environment is a daily practice we expect of every Rivian employee and is part of our operating procedures,” In an emailed statement, the company added: “We are not aware of any manager directing employees to share respirators.”

The allegations were filed over the past two months with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and are directed at the automaker’s only operational plant, in Normal, Illinois. All 12 employees. One of them has since left. Rivian, filed their complaints in coordination and with the United Auto Workers union. The union had been trying to organize. Rivian Plant workers over the past year. Bloomberg News shared the UAW filings.

A number of complaints were about hazards that did no cause injury, but which employees feared would.

Jackson, who joined the firm in March, stated in his complaint “trucks frequently veer into pedestrian aisles” Bulldoze racks in such a way that they could accidentally strike people.

There have been “many near misses” Kailey Harvey, another employee, said that powered industrial vehicles were almost hitting people. Sensors meant to display whether trucks were correctly locked in place sometimes give false readings because they aren’t calibrated to the height of the vehicles, she wrote. 

‘Concern for safety dropped’

“At first, it was really great,” Harvey, a former member of the UAW, who joined Rivian Last year, said in an Interview. “Slowly, as production kept climbing, the concern for safety dropped.” 

Irvine, California,-based companies were able to grow quickly. Rivian An army of engineers, vehicle assembly technicians, and other technical personnel has been hired. factory Floor managers from legacy automotive brands like Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Co. are employed mostly at the plant’s flagship plant in Normal. This plant is capable of producing 150,000 electric cars per year. It’s also hired top talent from Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. as part of a push to scale up and produce mass-market electric vehicles.

Rivian It quickly became a viable competitor in the EV Market dominating by Tesla and some legacy automakers are attracting strong interest from Wall Street investors. strategic backers Like Ford and Inc. The company’s initial public offering last November The sixth-largest in US history. 

The employee claims “suggest a factory that is far from operational excellence,” said David Michaels, who led OSHA under former President Barack Obama and is now a professor at George Washington University’s public health school. “If workers are being hurt, it is evidence that the factory management is not doing its job in ensuring that operations are being performed properly.” 

“These reported injuries reflect poor management control of production processes, suggesting that the quality of the factory’s output will also be suboptimal,” He concluded.

The Rivian plant in Normal, Illinois.

Brian Cassella—Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Rivian According to OSHA, the data it compiles on health shows it outperforms its peers in this area. safety. According to the company, the Total Recordable Incident Ratio is 2.5 cases per 200,000 hours worked. This is lower than the industry average which stands at 6.4. Data also shows Rivian’s safety Spokesperson said that performance has improved and that the incident rates have dropped 44% from January. “Our proactive actions and activities are having a significantly positive impact on safety,” Rivian said.

OSHA concerns safety at fledgling EV-makers — driven by worker complaints — are not new. California regulators investigated worker complaints in 2018. Tesla’s workplace safety The market leader significantly increased production of its first mass-market vehicle. 

A spokesperson for OSHA said that OSHA is currently investigating seven complaints against the Normal plant. The regulator previously issued four. “serious” Citations against RivianThree of them were from earlier in the year and all three ended with settlements with agency.

Rivian Notification of executives safety Concerns

Some workers Jackson stated that they had notified management of their concerns before submitting complaints to federal regulators. Jackson stated that Jackson had raised concerns. safety There were many concerns that were raised with supervisors but none of them were heard. “It’s like talking to a wall,” He said this in an interview.

Heather Barschdorf, a former employee, wrote directly to Rivian RJ Scaringe, Chief Executive Officer, is concerned about the possibility of hazards in her workplace affecting her pregnancy.

“The fumes in my area make us sick some days even without being pregnant,” She wrote the Sept. 23 email to Scaringe. It was viewed by Bloomberg News. She stated in her email that she had miscarriaged before and was now at high risk.

“Many people in my area have become sick with flu like symptoms from exposure to the galvanized metal parts we are welding,” Barschdorf also wrote in an OSHA claim filed Sept. 30. “I have asked for accommodation as a pregnant person including ventilation for paint fumes and respiratory protection numerous times and have been denied.” According to her filing, she was given a dust-mask instead of the correct type of respirator.

Scaringe did not respond to her email, she claimed, although a representative from human resources mentioned it during a subsequent meeting with Barschdorf. She repeatedly requested that she be moved to another section of the company, but they refused to act. factoryShe said so in an interview. “Rivian’s not listening to us,” She said.

Barschdorf miscarried two weeks after she filed an OSHA complaint. She resigned from her position at the company in November. 

Asked about Barschdorf’s account, a Rivian A spokesperson wrote: “There is no evidence that anything in the work environment caused or contributed to a personal miscarriage” Any member of the staff.

“We do not comment on open agency cases nor on any situation that has any potential pending litigation,” The spokesperson continued. “We value employee feedback and hear employee concerns, and we take appropriate action for each situation.”

Rivian Invested millions of dollars in safety It has more than 70 employees. safetyA spokesperson for the company said that they provide training and inspections to environmental, health, and safety professionals.

According to Harvey’s complaint, in February, a battery-pack blast set off a fire that erupted into flames 10 feet high. “I witnessed a person pull the fire alarm and nothing happened,” She wrote. After the evacuation, workers were asked to go back through the smoke and take a head count. “People were coughing and at least one worker had an asthma attack while walking through the smoke,” She added, “Since the fire…” “no drills or follow-up training have been held” for her shift in deciding where to go when faced with similar situations.

Rivian It was said that the fire started to grow after it. “comprehensive thermal event response plan.” A spokesperson stated that the company spent $70,000 on a Finnish gas measurement device that could be used indoors to measure air quality after fires.