Tesla Supplier Repeatedly Ignored Worker Concerns

The supplier exposed workers to unsafe machine operations, potential falls and a lack of PPE.

Based in Kyle, Texas, Simwon NA Corp. manufactures doors for vehicles made at Tesla's gigafactory about 20 miles northeast in Austin.

Last Friday, an OSHA investigation found that Simwon, a subsidiary of South Korean company Myung Shin Industries, ignored repeated concerns raised by workers, and willfully exposed them to unsafe machine operations, potential falls and a lack of personal protective equipment. 

After an inspection in June 2022, the agency found one willful violation for failing to control hazardous energy to prevent sudden machine startups, as well as more than a dozen serious citations. As a result, OSHA has proposed $298,338 in penalties.

A lack of proper lockout/tagout fetched the highest fine, but OSHA found several problems at the plant. A big part of the problem was power, namely extension cords. The facility had extension cords running across highly trafficked walkways and working areas, including three cords on the floor at the main entrance to the production floor and multiple in the press machine area, laser machine area, assembly machine area, loading dock and numerous other places. 

The shop also had improper personnel using overhead cranes and staff working near exposed live electrical parts. Employees were even handling hot materials at the press conveyor belt without PPE, exposing their hands and arms to thermal burns.

OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins said despite worker concerns, Simwon ignored serious safety issues, putting employees at risk. The company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference or contest the findings.

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