As Tesla prepares to deliver its first Cybertrucks to customers, a new report paints a grisly picture of the Texas factory where the truck is built, including an exploding casting machine and a robot that reportedly gored worker.
Information reported on some of the horrific incidents at the Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, where one in 21 workers were reported to be injured in 2022. The data is derived from the required injury reports that Tesla submits to OSHA.
An incident in 2021 involved an engineer who approached a supposedly stopped robot arm, but was scratched and pinned to the wall by the machine performing its programmed movements. A witness said the engineer bled from his back and arms, and after someone pressed the emergency stop button, the engineer pulled out and fell down a chute, leaving a trail of blood.
An injury report submitted by Tesla to Travis County, Texas, reportedly cited a robot-related incident, but did not clearly match that of witness accounts. The reported report does not specify that the person was absent from work. In unrelated incidents in August 2022, a worker’s ankle got stuck under a cart, putting him out of work for 127 days. A few days later, another worker suffered a head injury that put him out of action for 85 days.
Other injury reports were more recent. At least one worker suffered a concussion after being thrown from an explosion in the metal casting area around New Year’s Eve 2023. The explosion was believed to have been caused by accidental mixing of water in the press molten aluminum. A witness who saw the surveillance video said the explosion sent a ball of fire and smoke into the air, damaged the thimble and curled a door that seals the chamber. It is unclear whether Tesla reported this to OSHA, which apparently did not conduct an inspection for this incident.
Another worker claims the molding machine wasn’t sealing properly and often spewed molten metal. When a worker presented a solution to solve the problem, he was reprimanded saying that stopping would slow down production.
In June, contractors installing metal grates for the factory’s elevated walkways collapsed due to a lack of protective equipment. Part of the metal walkway fell on them, leaving them with broken bones and a punctured lung. OSHA inspected this incident and fined the contractors.
This isn’t the only time things have fallen from above: Information reports incidents of air conditioning ducts, steel beams and other construction materials crashing to the ground near auto workers.
The Tesla factory in Fremont, California also has a torrid history of workplace injuries. Employees there have a higher accident rate than the national average. Tesla was accused of under-reporting injuries and failing to account for dangers in an outdoor tent erected for the assembly line, leading to fines.
Tesla’s Austin Gigafactory opened in April 2022 and was built about two years after it was announced in 2020. Employees have described the company as having an “ultra hardcore” work culture that subjects them to extremely long periods, dangerous working conditions, harassment, etc. .
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has historically opposed unionization efforts by his employees. He chose to build the Texas plant in a “right to work” state where unions have a harder time organizing workers. Meanwhile, Musk’s other company in Texas, SpaceX, has recently shrugged off his workplace accidents.