Tesla factory in California
Photo: AP

California regulators are investigating an incident at Tesla’s factory in the state that involved a subcontractor who broke his jaw after getting struck by a piece of factory equipment. It’s the second probe announced by the state this month, and came just days before Tesla vigorously defended its safety record.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health was told of the incident sustained by a 30-year-old man at Tesla’s plant in the city of Fremont, and began an investigation on April 12, reports Bloomberg. This came days before Tesla labeled a news outlet an “extremist organization” for reporting the automaker underreported serious injuries on legally mandated forms to boost its safety record.

The worker was hospitalized, Bloomberg reported. A spokesperson for California’s industrial relations department told the news outlet the man “was struck by a skid carrier and was transported to the San Jose Regional Hospital with a broken jaw and laceration to the face.” The unnamed man was employed by a Missouri-based subcontractor called Automatic Systems Inc.

A spokesperson for the industrial relations department immediately responded to a request for comment.

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Tesla sent along the following statement:

Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of those who work at Tesla every day. This injury involved a worker who had been hired by an independent contractor and was performing a procedure that had been developed by and was under the supervision of that contractor. This contractor was also responsible for reporting the injury, which they did. We take any injury very seriously, and we’ll of course provide our full cooperation to Cal-OSHA. Last year alone, while Tesla’s vehicle production increased 20%, both our rate of injuries and the average severity of injuries declined significantly – and we’re working hard to reduce that even more.

Because Cal/OSHA is resource-restrained, it stands out that the agency has launched two inspections into Tesla now, Berkowitz, a former federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration chief of staff, told Bloomberg.

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“OSHA isn’t like your local county health department that inspects every restaurant every year,” she told the news outlet. “It would take OSHA 150 years to investigate every workplace under their jurisdiction just once” and “most companies don’t see OSHA in their whole lifetime.”