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  • Writer's pictureSamiksha Jain

SpaceX Faces Hefty Fine Over Worker's 'Near Amputation' Incident

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U.S. safety officials fined Elon Musk's company SpaceX $3,600 because of a serious accident at their Washington state location. This accident nearly caused an employee to lose a limb. The fine comes after a detailed investigation, which revealed that SpaceX might not have been following safety rules properly at their sites across the country. Since 2014, over 600 injuries at SpaceX that weren't reported before were discovered through this investigation.

SpaceX didn't comment on these findings, including serious incidents like the death of a worker and another who has been in a coma due to a head injury from a rocket engine problem in 2022. The company also hasn't responded to the recent safety fine.

The fine was given after inspectors from Washington's Department of Labor and Industries found new safety problems at SpaceX's Redmond, Washington, facility. This inspection happened because workers complained about the conditions. The inspectors said SpaceX didn't have a good safety plan, didn't communicate rules well, and didn't fix problems when they found them. For example, a worker's foot was crushed by a heavy roll of material because employees weren't required to wear protective footwear, even though the weight of materials they handled increased significantly.

One worker said that safety isn't always a priority at SpaceX because the company wants to produce as much as possible quickly. This worker also mentioned that a machine was purposely set up wrong to speed up work, which led to the injury.

In another incident, a worker broke an ankle during a fire alarm, but SpaceX wasn't fined for this because it was considered an unforeseeable accident.

Overall, SpaceX has been fined over $50,000 for various safety violations in the past decade. The story highlights that fines for safety violations don't always stop companies from breaking the rules, partly because the fines are small compared to the companies' budgets. Experts also say there aren't enough inspectors to enforce safety laws.

NASA, which has paid SpaceX more than $11.8 billion for space missions, hasn't commented on SpaceX's safety issues. The space agency has the option to require SpaceX to follow a strict safety program as part of their contract but hasn't publicly addressed the issue.

Lastly, the wife of the worker in a coma from his injury has sued SpaceX for negligence. Neither NASA nor SpaceX has commented on this lawsuit.

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