Electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc. has found itself in hot water after at least a dozen employees at its Normal, Illinois plant accused the company of safety violations. The complaints, which were filed with federal regulators, were also filed in conjunction with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which has been trying to organize the facility for the past year.
According to the complaints, the EV maker allegedly failed to address known hazards and gave low priority to safety at the plant. This reportedly resulted in some workers sharing respirators used in the manufacturing process. A Rivian employee also claimed that management took damaged electrical cables out of trash cans and instructed employees to use them.
The complaint further states that plant workers experienced a variety of injuries, such as lacerations, rib fractures, a broken leg, a cut ear and a crushed arm. Overall, the findings paint a picture of a carmaker that compromised on safety while expanding rapidly to keep pace with the voracious EV market. Some workers also noted that the demands of production led to the elimination of many safety protocols. increased,
Don Jackson, one of the employees in the complaint, said that he was expecting better from Rivian with regard to the company’s security systems. “Manufacturing involves a certain level of danger. But I was hoping that safety would be given a slightly higher priority,” Jackson said.
Kelly Harvey, another employee and a former UAW member who joined the EV maker last year, said there have been “numerous near misses” with industrial vehicles operated at the plant. Harvey also noted that Rivian’s factory was initially safe, but things took a turn for the worse as production ramped up. “At first, it was really great. Slowly, as production went up, the safety concern became less of a concern,” Harvey said.
A Rivian spokesperson disputed the claims made by the employees. The spokesperson, however, chose not to issue any comment regarding the specific complaints due to employee confidentiality. The Rivian representative also highlighted that the complainants are only 0.2% of the plant’s 6,700 employees.
Rivian notes that data compiled for OSHA indicates that the company is already outperforming its peers in terms of health and safety. The EV maker noted that its overall incident rate of 2.5 cases for every 200,000 hours of work is better than the industry average of 6.4 cases per 200,000 hours of work.
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