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The safety of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) chip plant in Arizona, which is set to manufacture chips for Apple, is now under intense scrutiny following reports of multiple accidents, near-misses, and allegations of a cover-up involving a faked active shooter drill. This raises serious questions about the well-being of workers at the site and the overall safety standards implemented by the company. Critics argue that TSMC’s Arizona plant may be one of the most hazardous facilities they have encountered, casting doubt on the viability of this contentious project.
TSMC’s ambitious plans to establish chip manufacturing plants in Arizona were initially unveiled in 2020, accompanied by a hefty $12 billion investment. The company promised the creation of 1,600 jobs in the United States, including opportunities within the local supply chain. However, just a month after the announcement, it was revealed that TSMC was seeking substantial subsidies from the US government to move forward with the project.
Surprisingly, Apple, a prominent collaborator, supported TSMC’s bid for subsidies, even engaging in lobbying efforts on the company’s behalf. While Apple claimed the plant would primarily produce chips for its older devices, concerns over the financial aspects of the project quickly emerged. TSMC demanded twice as much cash as initially proposed, raising questions about the value of money.
Recent revelations by Prospect shed light on construction safety standards at the TSMC Arizona plant, painting a disturbing picture of hazardous conditions. Reports indicate a series of accidents involving dropped loads from cranes, resulting in severe injuries. One incident involved an over 40-foot carbon steel pipe weighing over eight tons plummeting from a height of 160 feet. A 20-inch carbon steel piece struck another worker dropped from a crane.
Shockingly, a man in his sixties fell off an A-frame ladder, breaking both legs. Several workers fell through inadequately marked scaffolding, with one falling over 30 feet and suffering life-threatening injuries, including broken ribs, a wrist fracture, and a ruptured spleen.
The most alarming claim revolves around a dangerous gas leak at the TSMC Arizona plant. According to Josh Wakeham, business director for Arizona Local 469, a pipefitters union, TSMC allegedly attempted to mask the incident by declaring it an active shooter drill, leading to an evacuation of the area. Wakeham stated that workers were misinformed and only discovered later that the evacuation was prompted by a hazardous gas leak.
The allegations of deception and prioritizing productivity over worker safety have further eroded trust among employees. This incident reflects a broader cultural issue within the company, with an emphasis on maintaining productivity at any cost, detracting from proper safety protocols.
One of the major challenges in assessing the full extent of safety concerns at the TSMC Arizona plant is the company’s hiring practices. TSMC employs very few workers directly, resulting in accident reports filed with numerous contractors rather than the chipmaker itself. This fragmented reporting system makes it difficult to ascertain the true magnitude of on-site accidents.
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Moreover, there have been unverified claims of two deaths at the plant, one allegedly due to a drug overdose and the other attributed to a worker who removed a safety guard from an 8-inch grinder, leading to a fatal injury. Confirmation of these reports remains elusive.
As questions continue to mount surrounding TSMC’s Arizona chip plant, the safety of workers and the company’s commitment to prioritizing their well-being must be thoroughly addressed. The allegations of accidents, near-misses, and a potential cover-up paint a bleak picture of the facility’s safety standards. TSMC’s reputation as a leading semiconductor manufacturer is at stake, and the company must take immediate action to rectify these issues and ensure the welfare of its workforce. The ongoing scrutiny underscores the importance of transparency, accountability, and a proactive approach to safety in the fast-paced world of semiconductor manufacturing.