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 being built, including a casting machine explosion and a robot allegedly goring a worker.
The Information reported some of the gruesome incidents that have occurred at the Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, where one out of every 21 workers were reportedly hurt in 2022. The data is derived from the required injury reports Tesla submits to OSHA.
One incident in 2021 involved an engineer who approached a supposed shutdown robot arm but got clawed and pinned to the wall by the machine performing its programmed motions. A witness said the engineer bled from his back and arms, and after someone hit the emergency stop button, the engineer pulled himself out and fell into a chute, leaving a trail of blood.
An injury report submitted to Travis County, Texas, by Tesla reportedly has a robot-related incident but does not clearly match the one from witness accounts. The reported one does not state the person missed any time from work. In unrelated incidents in August 2022, a worker’s ankle got caught under a cart, which put them out of work for 127 days. Days later, another worker suffered a head injury which put them out for 85 days.
Other injury reports were more recent. At least one worker was concussed after getting launched back from an explosion in the metal casting area around New Year’s 2023. The blast was allegedly caused by water inadvertently mixing into the molten aluminum press machine. A witness who saw surveillance video said the explosion sent a ball of fire and smoke into the air, damaged the die, and curled up a door that seals the chamber. It’s not clear if Tesla reported this to OSHA, which reportedly didn’t have an inspection for this incident.
Another worker claims the molding machine also didn’t correctly seal and often spat out molten metal. When a worker presented a solution to fix the issue, they were reprimanded that shutting it down would slow production output.
In June, contractors installing metal grating for elevated walkways in the factory fell to the ground due to a lack of protective equipment. Some of the metal walkway fell on top of them, leaving them with fractures and a punctured lung. OSHA inspected this incident and fined the contractors.
It’s not the only time things fell from above: The Information reports incidents of air conditioning ducts, steel beams, and other building materials crashing to the ground near autoworkers.
Tesla’s Fremont factory in California also has a torrid history with worker injuries. Employees there have a higher injury rate than the national average. Tesla has been accused of underreporting injuries and of failing to address hazards in an outdoor tent that was erected for the assembly line, incurring fines.
Tesla’s Gigafactory in Austin first opened in April 2022 and was built about two years after its announcement in 2020. Employees described the company as having an “ultra hardcore” work culture that puts them through extremely long hours, unsafe working conditions, harassment, and more.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk historically has opposed efforts by his employees to unionize. He choose to build the Texas factory in a “right to work” state where unions have a more difficult time organizing workers. Meanwhile, Musk’s other company in Texas, SpaceX, recently ignored its workplace injuries.