According to a report on Bloomberg Law (opens in new tab), Intel is being accused of prioritizing CPU production at its factories over ensuring the safety of employees with regards to the coronavirus.
In a statement, Intel said the following:
"Intel’s top priority in managing the coronavirus situation is protecting the health and well-being of employees while continuing to operate and support our customers around the world. This has been an incredibly dynamic and unprecedented situation, and we have worked to learn and adapt as fast as possible so we can continue to safeguard our workers and communities.
We encourage our employees to raise concerns and we work hard to address those concerns quickly. Intel submitted formal responses to the complaints and OSHA inspectors visited our sites in Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico. We have not received any violations, and OSHA inspectors that visited our sites complimented us on our actions."
Bloomberg's report detailed various concerns filed to U.S. government agencies, most notably accusing Intel of not enforcing social distancing rules and stationing employees workstations too close together on the factory floor without shielding or providing masks.
Intel has also been accused of failing to isolate employees who tested positive for COVID-19. At one site in Oregon, there were accusations that Intel let workers with symptoms "return to work without providing proof they tested negative for COVID-19."
“We completely understand that people would be concerned,” Darcy Ortiz, a VP and GM of corporate services at Intel’s manufacturing, told Bloomberg. “We have a strong safety culture. We’ve provided a means for people to escalate issues. We welcome that.”
Intel told Bloomberg that as far as it is aware, no virus transmissions have taken place at its plants. It's worth noting that the complaints come from various different fabs, including facilities in Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona.
Purportedly, Intel's method of enforcing the social distancing rules are more flexible than legislation dictates. Multiple complaints claimed that managers have told employees that they are allowed to break the 6-foot rule, as long as it is for less than 30 minutes.
Intel has said that it's keeping output high because its products are essential and that it's implemented new policies around employee safety.
Prior to the outbreak, Intel already suffered from manufacturing issues, and with the success of AMD's Ryzen CPUs, Intel has been witnessing increasing pressure to sort out the manufacturing delays.
To solve its problems, there have been reports of Intel outsourcing chip production. Meanwhile, many of Intel's big-time customers have been looking elsewhere to source its chips, including Apple, which is pushing Arm development.
Editor's note: This article was updated to include comment from Intel.