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Injury rates at Tesla are way higher than at other automakers, report says

Tesla’s Fremont factory still has problems.

Tesla has been accused of labor violations in the past, and a new report supports those claims.

Workers at Elon Musk’s sustainable automaker suffered 8.8 injuries per 100 employees in 2015 — 31 percent more than their peers at other factories.

The numbers are even worse for serious injuries at Tesla’s Fremont plant, the focal point of its labor issues. Serious injuries that result in days away from work, restricted duty, or job transfer occurred at that plant at double the industry rate in 2015, with 7.9 per 100 compared to the industry average 3.9.

The report, by the workplace safety organization Worksafe and based on safety logs requested by Tesla workers, came out the same day BuzzFeed reported that Tesla’s head of human resources, Arnnon Geshuri, would leave the company. As HR chief, Geshuri in part oversaw the working conditions that have been seen as unsafe.

“The reason we asked for Tesla’s safety log is simple. We see people getting injured in the plant on a regular basis — people who do the same sorts of jobs that we do,” Jonathan Galescu, a Tesla body repair technician, said in Worksafe’s report. “We want to know — in fact, we need to know — the facts about how often workers are getting injured, and how those injuries are happening. It took us several attempts just to get management to give us the information they’re required by law to provide. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Workers shouldn’t have to risk retaliation just to learn more about safety in the workplace.”

Worksafe’s report arrives after Tesla told The Guardian that its injury rates had declined in the first quarter of 2017.

"We may have had some challenges in the past as we were learning how to become a car company, but what matters is the future and with the changes we’ve made, we now have the lowest injury rate in the industry by far. Our goal is to have as close to zero injuries as humanly possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry," a Tesla spokesperson said in response to the report.

Worksafe determined that those 2017 numbers were too preliminary to suggest meaningful change in Tesla’s working conditions.

Instead, the group found that injuries at Tesla continue to far outpace injuries at automakers nationwide. In 2016, Tesla’s 8.8 injuries per 100 employees rate from 2015 declined to 8.1 — still far above the industry standard.

Jack Morse contributed reporting.