The Center for Investigative Reporting has released its “Insult to Injury” report which says Tesla is under reporting the number of employees that are injured on the job.
According to the report, the company’s Fremont plant has a “chaotic factory floor” where speed and style are put ahead of safety. The article goes on to allege the company has “failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports” and this makes working at the company appear safer than it actually is.
The report claims sprains, strains and repetitive stress injuries were often listed as personal medical issues or minor incidents instead of work-related injuries. The publication goes on to say that “By law, if something at work contributed to an injury – even if work wasn’t the only cause – the injury must be counted.”
Other interesting claims mentioned in the report are allegations that the company used hoists that weren’t inspected before use and this resulted in repeated accidents. Several former employees also said they had to work up to 12 hour shifts while dealing with faulty equipment and coming up with workarounds to get cars out the door.
Two sources also claimed the company’s safety training is “woefully inadequate.” Tesla says all workers receive at least four days of training but sources said new employees are often pulled out of training to begin work on the factory floor.
One of the more bizarre allegations is that Tesla CEO Elon Musk “does not like the color yellow” and, as a result, there isn’t much of the color at the plant to warn workers about potential hazards. Tesla says “This is truly ridiculous” as “Anyone who’s been in the factory can see that the color yellow is everywhere.”
The group says they interviewed more than three dozen current and former employees as well as managers. They also claimed to have reviewed hundreds of pages of documents as part of their investigation.
Tesla responded to the report by saying it welcomes “constructive criticism” but said the article “paints a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here.” The company went on to call the report an “ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.”
The electric automaker went on to say “We believe in transparency and would never intentionally misrepresent our safety record to our employees or the public.” The company claims Reveal’s assessment “reflects a lack of understanding about how injury reporting works” as the company says the “process of determining if an injury is work-related or personal” is heavily based on the third-party evaluations by medical professionals.
The company notes as additional information is learned, it will sometimes update its records as cases that were initially thought to be work-related injuries were in fact personal injuries. The company says this is “not unusual” and is “common across industries.”
Tesla went on to claim that the reporters “spent several months searching for old, misrepresentative and outright inaccurate information about safety at Tesla’s Fremont factory.” The company added “employees have complained to us that they’ve felt harassed by these reporters after being tracked down on social media, getting unexpected phone calls without knowing how their cell numbers were obtained, and even being visited in Tesla’s parking lot and at their homes unannounced.”
This part of Tesla’s argument is ridiculous as the best way to learn about factory conditions is by talking to people who actually work there. Unless the reporters happen to know some employees already, the best way to find them would be to search social media or visit the factory to see if they could find people willing to talk.
Tesla notes they invited the reporters to the factory and offered them an opportunity to speak with employees. While this is a good gesture, it’s probably safe to assume that some employees might not be entirely forthcoming with their experiences over fears of reprisals.
Regardless, Tesla says an anonymous survey recently revealed the company’s production employees “overwhelmingly agreed” that Tesla values their health, safety and well-being. The company also laid out four things from the report they label as “fiction” that “debunks more of their false claims.”