Rivian employees say rapid production led to injuries


At least a dozen workers at the EV manufacturer’s Normal, Illinois facility complained to authorities about safety oversights

Article content

At least a dozen employees at Rivian have accused the electric-vehicle maker of safety violations at its Illinois plant, according to complaints filed with federal regulators. The complaints allege the company ignored known hazards and de-prioritized 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 Rivian employee said management fished damaged electrical cables out of the garbage and told employees to use them.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Together, the filings depict an automaker that cut corners as it scaled rapidly to keep pace in the competitive electric-vehicle space. Some employees described safety protocols that faded as production pressures grew on its trademark plug-in pickup truck.

“There’s a certain level of danger involved in manufacturing,” Don Jackson, one of the employees who filed a complaint, said in an interview. “But I was expecting safety to be a little more prioritized.”

In statements to Bloomberg News, a Rivian spokesperson disputed workers’ allegations but declined to comment on specific complaints, citing employee privacy. The spokesperson said the dozen complainants represent just 0.2 per cent of the 6,700 employees at the plant.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Creating a safe and inspiring environment is a daily practice we expect of every Rivian employee and is part of our operating procedures,” the company said in an emailed statement, adding: “We are not aware of any manager directing employees to share respirators.”

The allegations were filed over the past two months with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and are directed at the automaker’s only operational plant, in Normal, Illinois. All 12 employees, one of whom has since left Rivian, filed their complaints in coordination with the United Auto Workers union, which has been trying to organize Rivian plant workers over the past year. The UAW shared the filings with Bloomberg News.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Several of the complaints describe hazards that did not result in injury, but that employees feared would. Jackson, who joined the company in March, said in his complaint that “trucks frequently veer into pedestrian aisles” and bulldoze racks in a manner that could cause them to accidentally strike people.

There have been “many near misses” with powered industrial vehicles nearly hitting people, wrote Kailey Harvey, another employee. Sensors meant to display whether trucks were correctly locked in place sometimes give false readings because they aren’t calibrated to the height of the vehicles, she wrote.

“At first, it was really great,” Harvey, a former UAW member who joined Rivian last year, said in an interview. “Slowly, as production kept climbing, the concern for safety dropped.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Employees work on an assembly line at startup Rivian Automotive’s electric vehicle factory in Normal, Illinois, U.S. April 11, 2022.
Employees work on an assembly line at startup Rivian Automotive’s electric vehicle factory in Normal, Illinois, U.S. April 11, 2022. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski /Reuters

In a short period of time, Irvine, California-based Rivian has recruited an army of engineers, vehicle assembly technicians, and factory floor managers from legacy automotive names like Ford and General Motors, mostly at its flagship plant in Normal, which is capable of building 150,000 electric vehicles a year. Rivian quickly emerged as a viable challenger in the EV market dominated by Tesla and a few legacy automakers, attracting keen interest from an A-list of Wall Street investors and strategic backers like Ford and Amazon. The company’s initial public offering last November was the sixth biggest in U.S. history.

OSHA concerns about safety at fledgling EV-makers — driven by worker complaints — are not new. In 2018, California regulators probed Tesla’s workplace safety as the market leader dramatically ramped up production of its first mass market vehicle.

OSHA currently has open investigations into seven complaints at the Normal plant, an agency spokesperson said. Previously, the regulator issued four “serious” citations against Rivian, including three from earlier this year that ended in settlements with the agency.

Rivian has spent millions of dollars on safety and has a team of more than 70 safety, health and environmental professionals, a spokesperson said, adding that the company conducts routine trainings and inspections.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Stay connected with us on social media platform for instant update click here to join our  Twitter, & Facebook

We are now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TechiUpdate) and stay updated with the latest Technology headlines.

For all the latest Automobiles News Click Here 

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Rapidtelecast.com is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.
Leave a comment