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Report: Tesla factory workers complain of long hours, stress and serious injuries

Posted on May 26, 2017 in Blog

Dubbed the “factory of the future”, a new report claims many of the workers at the Tesla automobile factory in California are now complaining about grueling hours, unrealistic production goals and often life-threatening injuries.

As recently reported by the Guardian, hundreds of ambulances have been called to the factory for worker-related injuries and other medical issues over the last several years, including more than 100 ambulances for workers experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, abnormal breathing, seizures and chest pains.

According to 15 current and former factory workers who spoke with the Guardian, many of the work-related issues at Tesla stem from the long work hours needed to meet the company’s aggressive production goals. Indeed, several workers interviewed have seen co-workers pass out, collapse and taken away in ambulances.

While Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, admitted in a phone interview than many workers are having a difficult time working long hours on hard jobs, he also said that he continues to care about their health and general wellbeing. He added that he believes this is not a situation in which they are skimping on safety in order to increase profits.

However, despite these sentiments, company-released data examined by the Guardian indicates that its record of safety incidents were above the industry average in late 2016 — although the first few months of 2017 were 32 percent better than average.

Are Tesla workers being discouraged from reporting injuries?

Some workers at Tesla believe the way the company handles injured workers may discourage some from reporting their injuries, according to the recent Guardian report. For instance, if a worker is given “light duty” because of an injury, they are paid a lower wage in addition to supplemental workers’ comp benefits.

Even though Tesla says this practice is in line with California law and other employers, one injured production worker said his pay dropped from $22 an hour to only $10 any hour. This worker told the Guardian, “It kind of forces people to go back to work,” with another stating, “No one wants to get a pay cut because they’re injured, so everyone just forces themselves to work through it.”

A Tesla spokesperson told the Guardian that their goal is to make Tesla the safest factory in the auto industry. But the question is, how many more people are going to suffer serious injuries before that happens — if it happens?