Elon Musk's SpaceX fined after incident led to 'near amputation'

Inspectors from Washington state’s Department of Labor and Industries find SpaceX contravening workers safety regulations
A representational image displaying a rocket launch. — Unsplash

A representational image displaying a rocket launch. — Unsplash

The US worker safety officials imposed a fine of $3,600 on Elon Musk's SpaceX following an incident that took place earlier this month at its site in Washington and led to a “near amputation".

Reuters, citing its own investigative report from 2023, said the space company did not pay heed to worker-safety regulations and practices at its facilities in the country. With the help of interviews and government records, the news publisher also highlighted the records of at least 600 unreported injuries of SpaceX in past 10 years.

When approached to reflect on the matter, the company did not comment on any incidents, including the one that took place in 2022 during a rocket engine malfunction, leading to the death of one worker besides the injury of another who stays in coma. The wife of the injured filed a negligence lawsuit against the company.

Read more: Witness NASA and SpaceX's private lunar lander mission launch

Inspectors from Washington state’s Department of Labor and Industries found that SpaceX was contravening workers safety regulations — described as serious — during a visit to its facility in Redmond, Washington. However, the fine can still be challenged in the court, Reuters said while citing sources familiar with the matter.

Inspection records produced by the inspectors indicate that the site did not have a “thorough safety program,” communication of work rules, and a system to “correct violations.”

The incident, termed as “near amputation” by the inspectors happened when a roll of material fell and crushed a worker’s foot. Managers at the site told the inspectors that it was a one-time incident. 

It was also discovered by the inspectors that the company did not require employees to wear steel-toe shoes, even though the material they put into a machine got heavier, increasing from about 80 pounds to 300 pounds (36 kg to 136 kg) each.

Less than 24 hours after the previous incident, another Redmond employee was hospitalised with a broken ankle after falling from a dock during a fire alarm. Inspectors determined that the company could not have predicted this event.