During the recently-held third quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk and VP for Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Laurie Shelby briefly discussed the safety initiatives that the company has implemented to keep its factory workers as safe as possible. In one of her remarks, the VP of EHS noted that it is an exciting time for Tesla today, as the company is making the “safest cars made by the safest people.”
In a recent blog post on Tesla’s official website, Laurie Shelby elaborated further on the company’s safety programs that were rolled out over the past year. Since joining Tesla back in October 2017, Shelby stated that her EHS team had grown to 250 employees, including 35 EHS staff in the Fremont factory alone. Several programs, some of which were teased during the earnings call, have also been started as part of Tesla’s pursuit of becoming the safest car factory on the market.
Back in June, for example, Tesla the started transitioning to a new occupational health clinic in the Fremont factory. These clinics are overseen by a leading California orthopedic surgeon specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, which comprise around 85-90% of injuries in Tesla’s facilities. Shelby pointed out in her update that prior to its current system, Fremont’s health facility provided a lineup of services that was primarily focused on triage and first aid. With the newly rolled out clinic, Tesla’s workers can receive on-site, specialized care from full-time physicians who can provide medical assessments and immediate diagnosis.
As part of Tesla’s Early Symptom Intervention program, the company has also begun sending professional athletic trainers on the factory lines to identify potential injuries before they occur. These trainers are tasked with offering on-site evaluations and suggestions for improved ergonomic safety. So far, trainers have conducted more than 6,000 consultations with Tesla employees from the General Assembly, Seats, and Production Control lines, to name a few.
Perhaps most notable in the EHS VP’s update, though, was additional information on the CAL-OSHA investigation that was conducted earlier this year. Back in April, an expose by news agency Reveal based on accounts from alleged insiders and previous workers at Tesla accused the company of intentionally misreporting its injury rates. The expose blamed much of Tesla’s alleged safety problems on Elon Musk himself. At one point, for example, the publication noted that Tesla didn’t have enough hazard markings on the factory floor because “Elon does not like the color yellow.” Tesla promptly fired back, strongly denying the allegations in the report. A CAL-OSHA investigation into Tesla’s alleged malpractice eventually followed.
During the third quarter earnings call, Laurie Shelby noted that the CAL-OSHA investigation lasted four months, and the organization found no misreporting on Tesla’s part.
“The company here had a 4-month long Cal-OSHA investigation. And it basically proves that we are recording properly and doing as we should be. So it’s much different than what you would read about in the press,” she said.
In her safety update, Shelby added that after an extensive review of Tesla’s legally mandated records, injury logs, and safety policies, CAL-OSHA identified only two minor issues. One was an extension cord connected to a fan that created a potential trip hazard, and another was a date of injury that was incorrectly logged. Tesla promptly addressed the extension cord issue, while the incorrectly logged date of injury was immediately clarified and confirmed by a medical provider.
In true Tesla fashion, the company has ambitious goals when it comes to the safety of its employees. Earlier this year, for one, Shelby wrote a post announcing the company’s target of becoming the safest car factory in the world. The VP for EHS noted then that ultimately, workplace safety comes down to a combination of common sense, a culture that values safety, and a series of proactive preventive measures. If her recent update is any indication, it appears that over the past year, Tesla has started to make progress on all three fronts.
The full text of Tesla VP for EHS Laurie Shelby’s entire update could be accessed here.