A Tesla engineer faced an alarming encounter with a robot at the Giga Texas factory near Austin, resulting in growing concerns about the company’s workplace conditions.
As reported by the Daily Mail, two coworkers witnessed a shocking incident in 2021 where their colleague, who was working on programming software for disabled Tesla robots, was attacked by a machine designed to handle freshly cast aluminum car parts.
The robot, originally programmed for a different task, unexpectedly pinned the engineer down, digging its metal claws into the worker’s back and arm. This left a visible trail of blood on the factory floor, and the engineer sustained an open wound on his left hand.Although Tesla claims the engineer needed no time off for recovery, firsthand accounts from witnesses tell a more distressing tale of the incident.
As the Tesla engineer, bleeding from the encounter with the assembly robot, struggled to break free, a fellow worker pressed an emergency ‘stop’ button. After freeing himself, the engineer reportedly tumbled a short distance down a chute meant for collecting scrap aluminum, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.
Worries about the Texas plant
There have been ongoing concerns regarding Tesla’s Giga Texas plant. Alarming statistics, as reported by The Information, revealed that in 2022, nearly one in every 21 workers experienced on-the-job injuries. This stands in contrast to the industry median rate, where one in every 30 workers typically faces such incidents.
In cases of more serious workplace injuries, the ratio was about one in every 26 workers. To put this in perspective, other major auto factories in the US had a median rate of one in every 38 workers experiencing similar injuries.
Tragedy of heat stroke
In September 2021, a construction worker lost their life to heat stroke while working on the construction of Tesla’s expansive 2000-acre Giga Texas factory. An inquiry by The Texas Observer into Antelmo Rairez’s death uncovered that Tesla did not thoroughly report accidents.
In legal documents, Tesla denied any wrongdoing in the case involving Ramirez’s death, attributing it to “pre-existing medical conditions.” Tesla also laid blame on Ramirez, claiming he failed to “exercise ordinary care,” although a medical examiner found no known medical history for Ramirez.
The construction of the factory began in the summer of 2020, prompted by Elon Musk’s frustration with California regulators imposing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In late 2021, Tesla officially moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin.
Musk envisions the 10 million-square-foot facility producing 20 million cars annually by 2030. Construction in Texas is ongoing, with plans to employ 60,000 people once completed. Tesla anticipates spending up to $10 billion on the plant’s construction.
However, the company faced broader challenges. Market Watch reported a significant 61% drop in Tesla’s stock, making it the 11th-worst performing stock in the S&P 500 in 2022. The market capitalization also took a hit, plummeting by $1.19 trillion ($US800 billion).
The series of incidents at Tesla’s Giga Texas factory paint a troubling picture of workplace safety and management practices. The shocking robot attack on a Tesla engineer, coupled with the subsequent denial and blaming of the victim, raises serious concerns about accountability within the company.
The reported workplace injuries and the tragic death of a construction worker due to heat stroke underscore the need for thorough accident reporting and a commitment to employee well-being. The discrepancies between Tesla’s injury rates and industry medians highlight potential issues in the company’s safety protocols.