According to a new study by Worksafe, a non-profit labor advocacy group, workers at Tesla's plant in Fremont, California suffer injuries at a 31 percent higher rate than the industry average. Tesla has confirmed they have had safety issues in the past but they insist the issues are being resolved at a rapid pace. "We may have had some challenges in the past as we were learning how to become a car company, but what matters is the future and with the changes we've made. We now have the lowest injurt rate in the industry by far."
The study which was commissioned by the United Autoworkers Union, the Tesla factory had an injury rate of 8.8 per 100 workers, which is higher than the 6.7 injuries per 100 workers reported by the auto industry as a whole. In terms of serious injuries which result in time off from work, restricted duty or job transfers, the injury rate was at 7.9 per 100 workers, in comparison to the 3.9 per 100 workers for the industry average. The data represents almost all injuries at the Tesla plant in 2015 were considered serious. This new study could create complication at Tesla's factory. The Fremont plant, is Tesla's only factory and they are preparing to start production of their mass market model, the Model 3. And at the same time, there are talks within the workers to create a local union. Tesla has released a statement, "Our goal is to have as close to zero injuries as humanly possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry."
The study does support Tesla's claims of improving safety conditions and practices as the injury rate did fall to 8.1 per 100 workers last year. The automaker has claimed that the injury rate has fallen even more drastically to 3.9 per 100 workers for the first quarter of 2017. When responding to a request for comment, Tesla's spokesperson responded and acknowledged that tho product lines in the factory, the Model S and X "were not designed for ease of manufacturing." The veteran automakers take into account manufacturing and production when designing their vehicles. Tesla has now followed a similar approach, especially with the upcoming Model 3 which is due to release in the second half of this year. The Fremont plant was originally built as a General Motors factory. It was later re-purposed for a joint venture between GM and Toyota. The factory was then later abandoned during GM's 2010 bankruptcy. Which lea to Toyota closing the factory and eventually selling it to Tesla. The factory was designed to produce 250,000 vehicles annually. Tesla currently operates at a rate of around 100,000 units per year but hopes to raise production up by five folds as early as 2018 due to the anticipated demand for the Model 3.