Tesla certainly has an “electrifying” reputation in the auto industry, but this “bright” company may have a dark side. According to many analysts, Tesla has a lot explaining to do regarding its employee injury program.
According to recent investigative work conducted by Forbes, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent over 50 safety violations to Tesla between 2014 – 2018. That amounts to over $236,700 in OSHA fines Tesla is responsible for.
Amazingly, the violation stats at Tesla’s Fremont facility are far greater than all of the largest US car factories combined. Indeed, according to Forbes researchers, ten of America’s leading auto plants had 18 violations—or $89,539 of fines—within the same timeframe.
To make matters worse, researchers at the Center for Investigative Reporting claim that Tesla knowingly withheld data on serious injury claims. Allegedly, when injured employees went to Tesla’s medical clinic, they did not receive the DWC 1 workers comp claim required by California law. Instead, it appears Tesla has only been giving employees first-aid treatment or misrepresenting injuries as “unrelated” to working conditions.
Some industry analysts suggest that Tesla’s higher-than-average injury rate may be due to its intense focus on automation. From the very beginning, Tesla CEO Elon Musk envisioned a robotics-driven assembly line that would transform the auto industry. For this reason, Tesla seems to have invested far less in safety training versus more established automakers.
However, since these injury stats became public knowledge, Tesla’s Health & Safety department has introduced new safety protocols. For instance, the company now has teams of employees who routinely inspect and report on safety issues on the company’s assembly lines. Tesla has even brought in a few fitness trainers to help workers avoid repetitive strain injuries.
According to a recent Tesla blog post, these enhanced safety measures brought overall injury rates down by 50 percent between 2018 and 2019. The company also noted these numbers were verified in an audit from California’s OSHA department.