Rivian tries to squash bedbug problem at Illinois plant

Rivian is dealing with an outbreak at its assembly plant in Illinois — not of COVID-19, but of bedbugs.

The electric vehicle maker has brought in a pest control company and quarantined forklifts in an isolated area of the plant where bedbugs were seen.

“These impacted teams have been notified,” Zach Dietmeier, Rivian’s senior manager of plant communication and policy, told The Pantagraph of Bloomington, Ill., in an email. “We investigate every report and take appropriate actions per our pest control contractor.”

The county health department said it doesn’t investigate bedbug sightings but refers such complaints to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which told the newspaper it was aware of the issue. Bedbugs are wingless, blood-sucking insects that cause itchy bites and can be difficult to eradicate.

The Pantagraph said it was contacted by multiple people who work for Rivian at the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal and were concerned about the bedbug sightings. They said multiple forklifts had the seat covered in plastic with a sign reading “Bedbugs, Do Not Use.”

“Nobody really wants to bring bedbugs home,” one worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper. “Like, I don’t know what would happen if somebody did actually bring bedbugs home with them … I doubt Rivian would pay for fumigation of personal property.”

Another worker said there had been bedbugs reported on forklifts months earlier.

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