Tesla has confirmed an employee was found dead last week inside the company's Gigafactory, though what exactly happened to the 61-year-old worker still remains a mystery.
Authorities responded to Tesla's Nevada factory on July 22 just before 6 a.m., the Storey County Police Department told Business Insider. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered the body of Michael Johnston on the facility's third floor.
The matter is still under investigation, but officials so far believe the death appears to be medical in nature. The exact cause of Johnston's death is still to be determined pending an autopsy.
A GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for the victim's daughter remembered Johnston as a "very dedicated and hard working father."
"We have been deeply saddened by this incident, and our thoughts continue to be with our employee's family. While we are still awaiting the autopsy report, we have initiated an investigation with law enforcement agencies and have no reason to believe that the incident was caused by anything related to this employee's work," Tesla said in a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday.
"In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to support our employees and the family through an extremely difficult time."
Tesla additionally noted that its internal investigation did not uncover any hazards present in the area where the incident occurred.
The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration also confirmed the matter is under investigation and that it was "properly notified of the event by the employer."
The Tesla Gigafactory is a lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle assembly facility near Reno. The Facility, located at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, employs more than 3,000 people, who assist in the development of products like battery packs and electrical motors as well as stationary storage systems.
Tesla has previously faced criticisms in recent years over allegedly hazardous work conditions at its factories. According to OSHA records, company employees spent double the amount of time out of work for illness or injury in 2018 than they did in any year prior.
Between 2014 and 2018, California's OSHA opened two dozen investigations into the company and handed out 54 fines stemming from issues at the plant in Fremont, according to Forbes. And Reveal in June 2018 reported that Tesla allegedly fired employees for reporting unsafe working conditions and that it was late to add injuries to the company's official logs.
Company employees have also pushed to unionize. In 2017, one worker told Gizmodo amid the efforts that Tesla has "borderline slave conditions" that requires staff to regularly endure long hours manning poorly designed equipment, which often results in injury.
Tesla has since denied the allegations. It reported that injury rates fell 25% in 2017 and then again in 2018 without specifying the exact amount.
"We're not perfect. We make mistakes," Tesla's safety chief Laurie Shelby said in a Forbes interview the same year. "We're human. But our goal is to learn and to move fast."
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