- The injury rate at Tesla’s California factory decreased last year and is 5% better than the average rate for large manufacturers, Laurie Shelby, the electric-car maker’s head of health and safety, said on Tuesday.
- Fremont employees spent 12% less time out of work due to injury or illness in 2019, Shelby said.
- Tesla’s safety practices have come under scrutiny in recent years, as media reports have described problems with worker safety, injury recording, and medical care.
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Tesla has come under scrutiny for its safety practices in recent years, but at least in 2019, the carmaker said injury rates at its Fremont, California, vehicle factory improved.
Tesla’s total injury rate at Fremont decreased between 2018 and 2019 and is 5% better than the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ average rate for large manufacturers, Laurie Shelby, the electric-car maker’s head of health and safety, said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Shelby did not specify the amount by which Tesla’s injury rate at Fremont fell last year, or the Bureau of Labour Statistics category she was using as a point of comparison. The agency lists average injury rates for “manufacturing” and “motor vehicle manufacturing” companies, but does not use the phrase “large manufacturers.”
The Fremont factory’s injury rate per vehicle produced declined by over 50% in 2019, Shelby said, as Tesla made around 365,000 vehicles – up from around 255,000 in 2018. The amount of time Fremont employees spent out of work due to injury or illness decreased by 12% last year, and Shelby claims the numbers are in line with the average rate for large manufacturers.
Tesla’s injury rate appears to have improved dramatically since 2015, when it was 31% worse than the auto-industry average at a rate of 8.8 injuries per 100 workers, and 2016, when it was 8.1 per every 100 workers. But it’s difficult to make a direct comparison on how things have changed since then, as Shelby did not appear to compare Tesla’s 2019 injury rate to other car manufacturers.
While it might seem odd for a manufacturer to blog about its improved injury statistics, Tesla’s safety practices have been a major discussion in recent years, as a series of reports published by Reveal in 2018 described problems with worker safety, injury recording, and medical care. Those alleged issues included a failure to report some workplace injuries, avoiding using safety markings for aesthetic reasons, and failing to give injured employees proper medical care.
Tesla has denied that it’s misreported workplace injuries and failed to use safety markings for aesthetics, responding to the Reveal reporting in 2018 by saying“what they portray as investigative journalism is in fact an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organisation working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.” In November 2018, the automaker declined to comment on a Reveal story featuring allegations that it failed to give injured employees proper medical treatment.
Shelby said Tuesday that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found Tesla’s record keeping related to worker injuries and illnesses to be 99% accurate over the past five years.
From 2017 through the end of 2019, Tesla was cited by the California Division of Occupational Safety for more safety violations, at 45, and received more in fines related to vehicle manufacturing, at $US277,955, than any of the Detroit Big Three: General Motors, which logged six and $US22,411; Ford, 18 and $US90,162; or Fiat Chrysler, 23 and $US90,797.
In relation to its current safety record compared to other carmakers and the specifics of its “large manufacturers” category claim, Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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