At least 12 employees of an Illinois-based electric vehicle (EV) assembly plant have accused the automaker of overlooking crucial safety issues, filing a lawsuit against them. The complaints, which were filed with federal regulators, were also filed in conjunction with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which has been trying to unionize the facility over the past year.
They allege that the company’s leadership failed to take action, despite numerous incidents. However, open investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has issued multiple citations to the company over the years, are underway.
Let’s take a look at the allegations they’re facing and the emerging lawsuit.
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The Alleged Safety Violations and Lawsuit
The complaints allege that the company ignored known hazards and deprioritized safety resources, leaving some workers to share respirators needed during the manufacturing process. They also detail a range of injuries, including a crushed hand, a broken foot, a sliced ear, and broken ribs.
One of the employees said management even fished damaged electrical cables out of the garbage and told employees to use them.
Several of the complaints in the lawsuit further describe risks of harm that did not result in injury, but nonetheless threatened workers’ health and safety.
The Automaker’s Response to the Lawsuit Allegations
A spokeswoman for the EV Maker told Bloomberg that the company doesn’t agree with the allegations made by employees, but they can’t speak out on individual grievances for privacy reasons.
The representative continued, stating that the automaker employs 6,700 people, meaning the number of complainants is only a tiny fraction. The company also clarified that it is not aware of any management members asking employees to share respirators.
Setting Up Proper Respiratory Protection at Your Workplace
Respiratory protection in the workplace is of utmost importance, to both workers and leadership at work.
According to a recent joint American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society publication, approximately 1-in-10 people worldwide become ill with a range of non-cancerous lung diseases due to workplace respiratory hazards.
Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic normalized the use of respirators in public places.
Additionally, in the United States, millions of workers are expected to wear respirators in their various workplaces. These respirators are considered as personal protective equipment (PPE), designed to protect workers against low oxygen environments, harmful dust particles, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, microbes in the air, and sprays.
Such hazards can cause cancer, lung impairment, disease, or even death, which is why OSHA requires employers to fit test respirators, train employees on respiratory protection, and to gain medical clearances prior to respirator use.
*** About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees. Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing. We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience.
You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.