Are production pressures resulting in unreported staff and worker injuries at Tesla?

Posted Jun 26, 2018.
Recent reports from the USA have accused pioneering electric car manufacturer Tesla of hiding the true number of worker injuries at its factory in Freemont, California. Tesla Inc, co-founded in 2003 by leading engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk, has often been criticised for being far too optimistic on new car delivery timescales, exacerbated by production of the new, much cheaper Model 3, with the consequent time pressures likely to be a key factor in Tesla’s number of worker injuries.

An investigation by US-based media outlet Reveal  uses descriptions of factory worker injuries including “sliced by machinery, crushed by forklifts, burned in electrical explosions and sprayed with molten metal”. The investigation alleges that such injuries were properly reported to Tesla managers, but complaints were often dismissed as either minor injuries are being related to existing medical conditions. 

Five former employees involved with factory floor health and safety have also described the working conditions as ‘chaotic’, with speed of production rather than worker safety being the overriding concern. Another employee, Tarik Logan, suffered searing pain and headaches as a consequence of the fumes from a toxic glue used as part of the production process. The pain was diagnosed as an inhalation injury and became so bad that he was unable to work. Even so, his injury was not officially recorded as required by Law. Other reports also show that since 2014, Ambulance call outs to the plant were requested over 100 times to address a range of issues including chest pains, breathing problems, seizures and fainting, as well as a range of injuries such as lacerations, broken bones and burns. 

Tesla, already the world’s fourth-largest car manufacturer by value, recorded 722 worker injuries at its Freemont factory in 2017, out of a total workforce of 10,000. Tesla has provided statistics indicating that their workforce injury numbers are declining year on year, with the 2017 numbers being at an average for the industry. An anonymous internal survey of the workers also concludes that 82% agree that “Tesla is committed to my health, safety and well-being.” 

In defending Tesla, its culture and work safety record, Elon Musk has said:

We’re a money-losing company…This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?”

If you have suffered from an injury at work that wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. The friendly, highly-experienced team at Bakers are here to help, so get in touch online here, or call us on 01252 744600.