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Tesla reduces worker injury rate by ‘more than 50%’, detailed in new blog post

Tesla released a new blog post today about their effort to improve safety at the company and they claim to have reduced the injury rate during vehicle production by ‘more than 50%’ over the last year.

Over the years, Tesla has been slammed by claims of a higher than average injury rate at its Fremont factory.

Some of those claims were made through unionization efforts, but the automaker took them to heart and has launched several initiatives to improve safety.

Several significant injuries that happened at Tesla Fremont factory have been publicized, but the vast majority of the injuries that happen at the factory, like most factories, are actually related to some form of repetitive and non-ergonomic work.

Back in 2017, CEO Elon Musk said that he will perform the same tasks as Tesla workers getting injured in the factory in order to better understand the problem.

Later, Tesla hired Laurie Shelby from Alcoa to oversee all aspects of the environment, health, and safety throughout the automaker’s workforce and they announced new steps to make Fremont factory ‘the safest car factory in the world’.

Now Shelby is out with a new blog post in which she describes the progress made at Tesla regarding safety.

They claim that the injury rate per vehicle is significantly down over the last year:

“As we produced significantly more vehicles, our injury rates went down. Compared to 2018, our rate of injury per vehicle produced was reduced by more than 50% from last year.”

They also claim that the rate is “5% better than the industry average.”

Tesla has been accused of misreporting injuries in the past and Shelby addressed the issue – claiming that an audit from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) proved that they are reporting injury with a 99% accuracy.

The automaker is also planning several improvements in 2020.

You can read the full blog post here:

Accelerating Tesla’s Safety Culture

At Tesla, we believe safety in our operations is achieved through engagement, education, innovation and continual improvement. That’s why we focus not just on our overall rate of injury, but also on how to prevent individual injuries before they happen.

Our goal is to become the world’s safest company by continuously integrating safety into the way we work and the products we build, which is why we rely on each of our employees, dedicated leaders and Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals and service providers to promote a culture of safety.

While there is always more work to be done, Tesla had one of its safest years yet at our Fremont factory and we’re proud to report the following improvements from 2019:

  • As we produced significantly more vehicles, our injury rates went down. Compared to 2018, our rate of injury per vehicle produced was reduced by more than 50% from last year.
  • Our injury rate continues to be below the industry average. The Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) at our Fremont factory improved compared to 2018 and is 5% better than the industry average for large manufacturers according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Associates spent less time away from work due to injury or illness. Our Days Away and Restricted Time (DART) rate improved 12% compared to 2018 and is at the industry average for large manufacturers.
  • A review from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) of the last five years of Tesla’s injury and illness records illustrated a 99% accuracy in our safety record keeping, critical data that helps us identify risk and continuously improve. Cal/OSHA’s findings, along with our external audits of our process and our certified OSHA record keeping incident management team, illustrated the ongoing rigor of Tesla’s injury reporting.

Growing Safety Globally
In 2019, we added hundreds of sales, service, and delivery locations as well as Supercharger stations around the world. Additionally, our new Shanghai factory is now producing Model 3, and soon Model Y. As Tesla grows, our EHS team members are on the production floor, in our warehouses, in the field, and even on roofs.

People, our most important asset, are at the top of our accomplishments. Our employee safety engagement program, which we expanded to manufacturing sites globally, encourages employees to think and talk about safety every day. The program leverages the brainpower of our employees—from production associates to engineers—to continuously improve processes and ensure our safety culture is the best in the world.

We expanded our EHS technician program, which includes our production associates, to help keep us connected with how work is performed at the line level not how it is imagined by someone who does not perform the work.

We expanded our early symptom intervention program to Gigafactory Nevada, using our professional athletic trainers to educate employees on proper ergonomics and identify risk for injuries on the factory lines before they occur. And, in May, we once again hosted our annual EHS Week involving thousands of employees across every area of the business.

Industry Collaboration
Last year, Tesla hosted the Transplant Automotive Safety Forum (TASF) with over 100 safety professionals from Subaru, DTNA, Nissan, Volkswagen, KIA Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and BMW. We shared best practices and collaborated on topics that regularly impact all automotive companies.

Tesla is taking the first steps to join OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) at our facilities in Lathrop and Fremont, California, Nevada, New York, Michigan and Minnesota. Through a comprehensive onsite evaluation, the voluntary program recognizes businesses that are implementing effective safety and health management programs. We are excited to welcome OSHA into these facilities and partner with them on our goal for continual improvement.

Technology Improving Safety
We believe that technology can help improve safety in our cars as well as in our workplace. EHS is engaged with engineering so our products are more ergonomically friendly to build and install. Design principles and standards have been established between ergonomics, production and engineering so safety is built into the design process from the initial stages.

Our ergonomics team continues to explore the effectiveness of new technologies to improve safety, including exoskeletons and sensors to support healthy posture and movements. This work, along with that of our athletic trainers, is critical given that a majority of our injuries are musculoskeletal in nature.

Safety in 2020
We are expanding our principles of caring for employees to go beyond what traditional automakers offer to create a more holistic focus on well-being, including mental and physical health. We’ve expanded our contractor safety evaluation program more globally to align standard safety practices across all sites. And, we’re adding and improving on-site medical clinics at our Fremont factory, Gigafactory Nevada and Gigafactory Shanghai.

We want everyone to look forward to coming to work every day, and know they can enjoy a safe and healthy future. We are proud to have built a company filled with employees of all backgrounds who possess the innovation and drive to accelerate our vision to be the safest manufacturer and integrator of industry-changing automotive and energy products.

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