June 19, 2024

As Tesla prepares to ship its first Cybertrucks to customers, a new story offers a gruesome image of the Texas plant where the truck is being made, involving an explosion in a casting process and a robot reportedly goring a worker.

The Information reported on some of the heinous instances that occurred at the Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, where one out of every twenty workers was reportedly injured in 2022. The information comes from the mandated injury reports that Tesla sends to OSHA.

As Tesla begins building Cybertrucks, new reports of increased worker injury are unearthing at the Austin Gigafactory.

An engineer approached a reported shutdown robot arm in 2021 and was clawed and pinned to the wall by the machine completing its preset actions. The engineer bled from his back and arms, according to a witness, and when someone pressed the emergency stop button, the engineer pulled himself out and fell down a chute, leaving a trail of blood.

An injury report submitted by Tesla to Travis County, Texas, apparently includes a robot-related event but does not match the one from witness reports. The reported one makes no mention of the person missing time from work. In an unrelated occurrence in August 2022, a worker’s ankle became entangled beneath a cart, forcing them to miss work for 127 days. Another worker had a brain injury a few days later, forcing them to miss work for 85 days.

Other reports of injuries were more recent. Around New Year’s 2023, at least one worker was concussed after being propelled back from an explosion in the metal casting section. The explosion was purportedly caused by water accidentally being mixed into the molten aluminium press machine. The explosion, according to a witness who viewed security video, blasted a ball of fire and smoke into the air, destroyed the die, and curled up a door that locks the chamber. It’s unclear whether Tesla reported the event to OSHA, which apparently did not conduct an inspection for this occurrence.

Another worker reports that the moulding machine did not properly seal and frequently spit out molten metal. When a worker proposed a remedy to the problem, they were told that shutting it down would reduce manufacturing output.

Tesla robot tesla explosions

Falling objects from the skies above Tesla

Due to a lack of safety equipment, contractors installing metal grating for elevated walkways at the facility fell to the ground in June. Some of the metal walkway collapsed on top of them, causing fractures and a lung puncture. This event was investigated by OSHA, and the contractors were penalised.

It’s not the first time objects have fallen from the sky: The Information claims occurrences of air conditioning ducts, steel beams and other building materials collapsing near autoworkers.

Tesla’s Fremont, California, facility has a long history of worker injuries. Employees there are more likely to be injured than the national average. Tesla has been fined for underreporting injuries and failing to address dangers in an outside tent created for the production line.

Tesla’s Gigafactory in Austin opened in April 2022, almost two years after it was announced in 2020. Employees accused the organisation as having a “ultra hardcore” work culture that requires them to work exceptionally long hours, in hazardous working conditions, and endure harassment, among other things.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously resisted unionisation efforts by his staff. He chose to establish the Texas facility in a “right to work” state where unions struggle to organise workers. Meanwhile, SpaceX, Musk’s other Texas business, recently overlooked workplace injuries.