Tesla may be purposefully undercounting worker injuries
In a report published today, Reveal details evidence that Tesla has been undercounting the injuries sustained by workers at its Fremont, California factory. Over the last couple of years, injury rates at the factory have been higher than the industry average, but for 2017, the company reported a sharp drop in injury rates. The reductions brought Tesla in line with the rest of the industry, but Reveal’s investigation, in which it conducted interviews with more than three dozen current and former employees and reviewed hundreds of pages of official documents, suggests that the company has been mislabeling work injuries.
By law, the company has to report any injuries sustained on its property that result in missed work, job performance restrictions or medical treatment beyond first aid. But according to Reveal’s findings, the company has frequently labeled such injuries as “personal medical” cases, meaning they don’t have to be reported. “I saw injuries on there like broken bones and lacerations that they were saying were not recordable” said one safety professional. “I saw a lot of stuff that was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’”
Former managers claimed that they had pointed out a number of safety issues to their superiors. Many of those, however, were dismissed. For cases like using more yellow or posting more signs to denote areas that require extra caution, higher-ups said Elon Musk didn’t like those things. Same for wearing safety shoes.
For its part, Tesla has denied the claims, saying it tallies injuries accurately, provides adequate training and is very concerned with workers’ safety. “Anybody who walks through our doors into this factory is our responsibility, and we care about them,” Laurie Shelby, Tesla’s VP of environment, health and safety, told Reveal. “I have a passion for safety and it’s about caring.” In a statement to Reveal, Tesla said that the report was “an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.”
You can read the full report here. We’ve reached out to Tesla and we’ll update this post if we receive more information.