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Tesla responds to claims that they purposely underreport serious factory injuries

By Polycount · 12 replies
Apr 16, 2018
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  1. Tesla has been the center of controversy several times in the past. The most current example of this would be the recent semi-autonomous Tesla crash which killed driver Walter Huang but the company has received criticism on many occasions in the past, as well.

    In October, the company received a formal complaint from the United Auto Workers union. The organization claimed Tesla allegedly fired hundreds of employees from their Fremont factory for having union ties.

    Now, according to a report from Reveal, Tesla has allegedly been under-reporting the injuries their workers have received while working at the California-based factory.

    The outlet performed an "investigation" into the matter to determine whether or not Tesla's recent 2017 factory injury rate report -- which contained noticeably lower injury numbers than reports from previous years -- was accurate and indicative of the company's true injury rates.

    The outlet found that Tesla was reportedly filing many injuries under the "personal medical" category. Since injuries filed under this category do not need to be publicly reported, Reveal feels these findings could explain Tesla's lower official injury rate numbers in 2017.

    One such filing involved 27-year-old Alaa Alkhafagi, a Tesla factory worker who was reportedly told to clear excess paint from a clogged hose. Losing his balance after his foot got stuck in said paint, he fell and "[smashed] his head and arm." According to Reveal, the accident was never recorded in Tesla's official injury logs.

    Tesla has since responded to Reveal's report, emphasizing their commitment to factory safety and calling out Reveal's reporters for presenting "misrepresentative and outright inaccurate" information.

    The following statement excerpt details some of Tesla's biggest complaints:

    ...We believe in transparency and would never intentionally misrepresent our safety record to our employees or the public. Reveal showed us a number of cases where they claimed injuries should have been documented as work-related rather than personal. In fact, we have reviewed and confirmed that the recorded injuries Reveal disputed to us were properly recorded by Tesla. Their assessment reflects a lack of understanding about how injury reporting works.

    ...Reveal's reporters have spent several months searching for old, misrepresentative and outright inaccurate information about safety at Tesla’s Fremont factory. Since last fall, 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.

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,715   +1,951

    Not saying that Tesla is telling the whole true. What I am saying is that paint doesnt dry fast enough for you to get your foot stuck in it without knowing what you're dealing with.

    Carlessness on part of the employee does not mean Tesla is a fault. That said, if it is the employees fault then Tesla had to reason to lie about it.

    Why we're they stepping in the paint anyway? You don't clean something up by tracking it around on the bottom of your shoes. Weather it's a musky oder or shoddy business, Tesla isn't responsible for being stupid. It isn't their fault if you improperly use their tech and it isn't their fault if you're too dumb to do your job.

    "Oh, this safety warning say I need to take control of the car is going off because the car says auto pilot can't do this, I'll ignore it"

    "I'm gonna clean this mess up by stepping in the mess and walking around it in"
    Flebbert likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,880   +3,315

    On the flip side, it has been a game for industry for many decades to under report injuries in the workplace, especially around assembly lines. "Lost Time Injuries" are what they avoid like the plague since it can have a direct bearing on their insurance rates and their Workman's Comp rates as well. I've been in plants where they will go so far as to have the employee come to work, sit in a nice air conditioned office with a TV or computer to avoid a lost time injury. In one place I worked, the company would send a car to the employee's home, pick them up, bring them breakfast and lunch, then take them home on top of giving them their regular pay .... all to avoid that dreaded lost time injury.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,715   +1,951

    I again will say I'm not saying Tesla is innocent, but I would like to add to what you said. I've seen people fake injuries and even brag about it. While sometimes these people did get fire the work place found it easier to just do what you said than to file legal charges or an insurance claim. They often found other ways to fire people like faking a performance review or turning a small infraction into a large one.

    I, personally, have seen a manager fake sexual harassment charges to get someone fired. Even though that manager had obviously discriminated against them for being disabled. The company(franchise owner, rather) choose to strong arm the guy into quiting.

    This guy had bowl control problems and had to leave during the rush often to use the bathroom. Company wanted him gone after the manager tried repeatedly firing him for using the bathroom. I'm actually pretty disgusted over that one. He "quit" and she got promoted from store to regional manager. I quit shortly after that.

    Anyway, the point I originally wanted to make is that people abuse company policies as often as the company abuses them. They're all just people at the end of the making none of them infailable.

    BTW, don't eat Panera bread if you support disabled employees right to use the bathroom
    Uncle Al likes this.
  5. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,663   +593

    Companies and governments are pathological when it comes to telling the whole truth
    Flebbert, JaredTheDragon and senketsu like this.
  6. Fake news. All major companies take measures to minimize negative performance and regulatory marks.
  7. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,231   +1,666

    It's pretty clear that Tesla isn't the best place to work for, but this "report" seems too fake for me to take seriously. It smells of tabloid style "reporting" where facts are always distorted or hidden.
  8. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,450   +1,620

    OTOH, Tesla's first go-to was to sputter "Nuh-uh, this is just talk from pro unionization employees!" which this article conveniently ignores.

    When your first response is "lying union people" instead of "We are unaware of such injuries" it casts a shadow over the whole thing. Why did tesla panic and blame somebody for reports instead of simply denying them and claiming they are following the proper guidelines for injury reports? Very suspicious.
  9. News harassment of employees, I believe this one. Decades ago I lived in a Duplex with 4 suites (one up and one down on both sides). There was a party downstairs (I had the suite upstairs) and someone got stabbed and died. Knocks on the door in the morning, I open it and there is a guy with a tv camera and a woman with a microphone, go to do laundry, tailed by a reporter who wont take F Off as an answer (I used the full version). An offhand comment ends up in print the next day. This went on for awhile.
    also cars driving up and down our street increased. They all slowed down and gawked at us as they passed our place. Being upstairs we had the big window and balcony, downstairs had a basement type window so everyone is looking at me and my roommate. This was before the internet, I can't imagine what it is like today.
    I regard these 'reporters' as highly as ambulance chasing lawyers.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  10. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,231   +1,666

    You should read more about UAW and how they operate. UAW literally spent half a mill $ in 2017 just to harass Tesla tried to disrupt its business in hopes of getting favorable concessions (and Tesla isn't their only high profile target). UAW is doing losing members fast and this is the only way they know how to force large corporations to sign deals with them in order for the money to not dry out.

    Tesla blamed the reporters and UAW with good reason and if you read the entire report you'll see in simple terms what they consider to be truth and fiction. Whether we should believe them or not is a different story altogether, but I usually prefer to listen to proper explanations than what tabloids write in what clearly looks like yellow journalism. Let's not forget that the worker unions are really big business too and the days of them being considered the "good guys" are long over (unfortunately).
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  11. Do companies like UWA take financial stakes in companies as well? or are we mainly looking at hush money?

    Was recently looking into the Bitcoin heist where a few made huge money out of a non regulated market, and although this is different I am finding myself looking to see if a a lot of news is focused around the manipulation of the market to profit.
  12. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,231   +1,666

    I don't know about UAW specifically, but I did hear others do buy shares. For example Chicago Sun-Times is partially owned by labor unions.
    And UAW isn't seeking hush money, they want Tesla's workers (which number in the many thousands) to sign membership deals with them and this means that they'll get money from that.
  13. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,431   +1,824

    There are different types of paint, and some of them are very viscous such that you could get stuck in it before being dry, or even if a spill was partly dry, it would be possible to get a foot stuck in it (e.g., epoxy paint). Some kinds of paint can be considered hazardous material, and as such, require procedures designed to clean up hazardous materials meaning that not just any employee should be cleaning up a paint spill. If some manager told an employee without the proper training to clean up the mess, as I see it, it is likely that manager's fault, or the fault of higher ups for not realizing that special skills are required. There are OSHA regulations that are in place for this sort of thing, and if Tesla has not taken steps to implement them, they could be looking at fines.

    The thing is with this is that any problem is an opportunity for improvement if it treated that way. If there is pressure to get cars out the door, management may not give a crap about problems and place getting cars out the door at any cost as the priority.

    I work in a company where there is significant opportunity to get hurt on the part of factory workers. It took management a while, but they finally realized that taking steps to record all accidents and investigate what caused them so that similar accidents are prevented in the future is the way to go because it prevents having to train new employees and keeps trained employees safer.

    And in the company I work for, there are hazardous material labeling, handling, and cleanup procedures that must be followed. Paint, of any type, is on the list.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018

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