Shocked, burnt and bruised: the plight of workers at Tesla’s plants Peoples Dispatch - 10 Juillet 2018
A third investigation has been opened last week into carmaker Tesla by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), which received a complaint from a worker at the company’s automobile assembly plant in Fremont. The details of the complaint will be disclosed by the body only after the completion of the investigation.
The investigation has been launched only days after the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced that he would be launching a new production line at the Fremont plant.
Over the past years, Tesla’s Fremont plant, which employs over 10,000 workers, has proven to be an extremely dangerous workplace, where employes have been “sliced by machinery, crushed by forklifts, burned in electrical explosions and sprayed with molten metal.”
In 2014, the rate of work-related recordable injuries – i.e injuries that require medical treatment beyond first aid – was 15% higher than the average rate in the automobile industry. The following year, when the industry average of such injuries came down from 7.3 per 100 workers to 6.7, at the Fremont plant, the rate of injuries increased from 8.4 per 100 workers to 8.8, which was 31% higher than the industry average.
The figures on the rate of serious injuries – i.e those that require days off from work or restricted duty or transfer to a different task – paint a much darker picture of how dangerous working in Tesla is for its employees. As with recordable injuries, the rate of serious injuries also came down industry-wide in 2015. In the case of Tesla’s plant, however, the rate of serious injuries soared and was 103% higher than the industry average, according to a report by Work Safe, a non-profit organization that specializes in workplace health and safety issues.
The 2018 annual report of The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, which identified Tesla as one of the 12 most dangerous workplaces in the US that puts its employees at risk of physical injuries, pointed out that the rate of recordable injuries was 31% higher than the industry average in 2016, while the rate of serious injuries was 83% higher. Last year, another 722 instances of work-related injuries were reported at the Fremont plant, of which 600 were serious injuries.
While the industry-average for last year is not yet available, Tesla’s Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety claimed on its website, under an article titled “Becoming the Safest Car Factory in the World”, that the recordable injuries last year had declined by 25% compared to the year before.
“Relying on 2017 injury data to reach any conclusions about safety trends at the plant is premature and could have misleading results,” said Workspace’s report, which pointed to many irregularities in the way in which the injury logs were maintained by the company.
“I hear coworkers quietly say that they are hurting but they are too afraid to report it for fear of being labeled as a complainer or bad worker.”
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