State Regulators Investigate Burn Injury at Tesla's Fremont Plant

Tesla Model S sedans parked in front of the Tesla Factory in Fremont.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cal/OSHA is investigating an injury involving an outside contractor working at the Tesla plant in Fremont as the electric car maker faces scrutiny over workplace safety by labor activists.

The state occupational safety and health regulator said the injured employee was working at the factory when he sustained second and third degree burns from an electrical explosion. The worker is still recovering in a burn center at a Bay Area hospital.

Now Cal/OSHA is investigating Mark III Construction, the company that employed the injured contract worker. No investigation has been opened against Tesla.

This incident comes at a time when Tesla employees make moves toward unionizing as a response to the company's workplace safety record. Some Tesla employees are working with the United Auto Workers Union to organize the Fremont plant. Those workers cite poor work safety conditions as one of their reasons for unionizing.

The number of recorded injuries at Tesla's Fremont plant was 31 percent higher than the industry average, according to a report issued by Worksafe, a labor advocacy group. Worksafe analysed incident rates reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015. Statistics for 2016 haven't been released.


The car maker disputed the claim in a blog post, saying it's improved safety at its Fremont plant. Tesla says its injury rates are now significantly lower than the industry average.