Elon Musk wants to build the world’s safest car factory


Elon Musk wants to build the world’s safest car factory

The buzz around the Tesla factory, made by the United Automobile Workers union, forced the company to make a statement and explain a few nuances about worker safety in their car factory in Fremont, California.

For some time Tesla is being attacked by UAW. They accuse the company of using their workers and a high probability of accidents in the factory. Everything started from a critical entry on a blog by Jose Moran. According to him, the situation in this Tesla factory isn’t that good: too small a salary, long hours, low morale, a high worker rotation and work accidents.

It’s worth noting this entry wasn’t made to attack the company, or Elon Musk himself. The man writes:

I was attracted to the company by its mission. Elon Musk is a visionary. He is a genius.

The entry is now, however, used extensively by the UAW in an anti-Musk campaign. United Automobile Workers is the biggest labor union in the USA’s motor sector, which, since a frew months ago, made it its mission to unionize workers in Tesla factories, informing about it publically. Apart from press conferences aimed at Tesla, Elon Musk also accused them of sending their activists to him, who – by working there – are supposed to make UAW’s accusations more trustworthy.

Safety over all

Elon Musk quickly reacted to these accusations. He sent an e-mail to all workers and the company made a statement where it explains their Total Recordable Incident Rate in the factory is less than 3,3. It’s an incredible result since in the automotive branch, the average for this value is 6,7. It is also important to notice the Tesla factory in Fremont is the biggest hiring company in California – over 10 000 people work there, and the complete number of workers in the company is over 30 000. With such an amount of workers, accidents are easy to happen and even so, Tesla managed to lower their amount the year before by 30%.


Elon Musk believes the best way of creating a proper work environment is making people want to go to work in the first place. One way to do it – make the worker a part of the company. This is why Tesla, apart from the standard salary, also offers shares to its workers. During the last year, everyone hired by Tesla also received shares worth 70k-100k dollars. Thanks to that, Tesla workers are the best paid workers in the automotive branch in the USA.

Work hours

Elon Musk admits that in times of great demand for car production he asked his workers to do overtime. Considering that overtime is a weight not only on the workers but also their families, the company decided to change their workflow into three shifts. Thanks to that, a worker has on average 43 hours weekly. The amount of overtime fell 50% since starting production on Model X, which is probably the most difficult car to produce in history. Tesla, however, learnt their lesson and Model 3 will be definitively easier to produce, which should lessen the burden on factory workers.

Elon’s task is to create the safest car factory in the world.

Tesla designed their cars from the ground up and makes them en masse using a new technology line and work processes. It is never simple and small accidents can happen, especially when creating complicated cars like the Model S or X.

The newest product of the company, Model 3, was designed in such a way to make its manufacture as easy as possible. During the design process, a huge part of it was not only engineers, but also a team devoted to work ergonomics. For example: A simulation was made which showed where the worker would need to reach too far or bend too much. It let Tesla redesign factory robots and the car itself to eliminate situations like these.

Every part of the company now has a Safety Taskforce, which is meeting regularly, to increase worker safety awareness and to suggest changes to procedures, of which many have been implemented so far.

All of these improvements caused the number of work accidents leaving the worker incapable of work to fall 52%, while the overall amount of accidents in the factory fell 30% between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. It is a result much better than the average in the automotive branch and becomes better by the day. Tesla’s goal is to reach zero accidents with human workers to become the safest factory in the automotive business. Tesla intends to continue work related to improving procedures, both through work with Safety Taskforces and by talking with their workers and considering their input.

In the end, Tesla’s factory is safer than those whose workers are unionized in the UAW. Paradoxically, listening to their concerns could actually increase the amount of workplace accidents by 32%. Tesla treats safety too seriously however to allow their results to diminish.

Sources: Tesla, Electrek

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