A new investigation from Reveal claims Tesla is actively seeking to minimize the number of work-related injuries that appear on official records by limiting injured employees’ access to care. This follows a report from April that alleged a lack of sufficient safety measures at Tesla factories—claims Tesla and Musk vigorously pushed back against.
The report, which draws on the accounts of both named and anonymous sources, details specific practices such as sending employees to the emergency room via Lyft instead of ambulance, prohibiting employees from calling 911 from the factory floor without permission, removing certain kinds of medical equipment from the on-site clinic, and turning away injured temp workers.
“The goal of the clinic was to keep as many patients off of the books as possible. …The way they were implementing it was very out of control. Every company that I’ve worked at is motivated to keep things not recordable. But I’ve never seen anybody do it at the expense of treating the patient.”
Watson also says that she was instructed by a Tesla lawyer and safety official not to prescribe therapeutic exercises to injured workers to avoid making a record of the injury.
The Reveal report also tells the story of Stephon Nelson, an employee who was injured after a Model X hatch closed on his back, leaving him unable to walk, sit, or stand. After an on-call Tesla doctor told him he couldn’t take an ambulance to the hospital, Nelson says he get a ride from his girlfriend, but not before his supervision instructed him to show up the next day. After being returned to full duty multiple times, Nelson eventually received work restrictions to accommodate his injury more than a week after the fact, Reveal reports:
Eight days after his injury, the outside clinic diagnosed Nelson with a “crushing injury of back,” contusions and “intractable” pain. He finally was given work restrictions that said he shouldn’t be bending, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs or lifting more than 10 pounds.
Even after that, the health center at one point sent Nelson back to his department in a wheelchair, he said.
Reveal says Tesla did not reply to requests for comment on the story. Dr. Basil Besh who owns Access Omnicare, which runs Tesla’s on-site clinic, pushed back against some of the claims saying:
“We treat the Tesla employees just the same way we treat our professional athletes. If Steph Curry twists his knee on a Thursday night game, that guy’s in the MRI scanner on Friday morning. …There’s always going to be somebody who says, ‘No, I shouldn’t be working,’ but if you look objectively at the totality of the medical examination, that’s not always the case.”
The report comes as Tesla’s weekly production dropped to 5,000 vehicles (roughly 3,500 of which were Model 3s) while Musk aims for a production goal of 7,000 to 10,000 units a week in the U.S., and has approved a prototype of the Model Y to enter production.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics