The rate of injuries occurring at Tesla’s (TSLA) high-tech Fremont plant in California was about a third higher than the auto industry average in 2015, a damning report from worker advocacy group Worksafe has claimed.
According to an analysis of company accident reports, the plant, which employs about 10,000 staff, registered 8.8 injuries per 100 workers in 2015, compared to 6.7 across the rest of the auto industry. Worksafe added that injuries resulting in days off work, restricted duty or job transfers were approximately twice the industry average.
While most of Tesla’s peers’ latest accident reports for 2016 have yet to be published, Worksafe says it is "reasonable to expect that the company’s rates will again surpass the industry-wide incident rate. Tesla's rate of injuries per 100 workers fell only slightly to 8.1 last year. (See also: Tesla Factory Workers Accuse Company of Intimidation.)
"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," a Tesla representative told CNBC. "Our goal is to have as close to zero injuries as humanly possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry."
These findings came shortly after the Guardian published a damning report on life inside Tesla’s Fremont plant. Fifteen current and former factory workers told the British daily newspaper that they were forced to work long hours under intense pressure, and occasionally through pain and injury, to meet CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious production goals. (See also: Tesla's Workers Are in Touch With UAW Organizers.)
“I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open,” Jonathan Galescu, a production technician at Tesla, told the Guardian. “They just send us to work around him while he’s still lying on the floor.”
The newspaper added that ambulances have been called to the plant, which human workers share with giant robots, more than 100 times since 2014.
When the Guardian addressed these issues in a phone call with Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO responded that he “cared deeply” about employee health and wellbeing and that the company’s factory safety record had improved considerably over the past year.
During the interview, Musk also admitted that Tesla’s surging market capitalization is unwarranted, particularly as the company produces just 1 percent of General Motors’ (GM) total output. (See also: Tesla Reminds Customers Model S Is Its Best Vehicle.)