Tesla, Inc. is largely known for its self-driving cars and futuristic designs, but workers say there is much more to the story than that. The company has apparently been under-reporting its number of worker injuries for years. Any time that a company misrepresents workplace safety, it paints a misleading picture for current and future Illinois workers who otherwise might have made different employment decisions. Although workers’ compensation benefits can help people who have been hurt on the job, many would probably prefer to never be unknowingly put into that position in the first place.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Tesla omitted 4% of workplace injuries from the company’s 2018 workplace injury summary. In 2016, it under-reported workplace injuries by 44%. This data contradicts claims that Elon Musk — Tesla’s CEO — made in 2018, when he told investors that the company was focused on workplace safety despite OSHA’s investigation into unreported injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the auto manufacturing industry has 6.1 injured or sick workers for every 100 full-time employees. Based purely on Tesla’s workplace injury summary, it had an injury rate of 6.2 in 2018. After including the omitted injuries, it jumped to 6.5. This figure supports Tesla’s poor reputation in the auto industry. Tesla plant workers are frequently required to work as long as 70 hours a week in dangerous environments, often for very little pay.
Some people claim that Tesla’s large profit margins are directly correlated to the company’s disregard for worker safety. Unfortunately, this is not all that uncommon. Illinois businesses frequently bank on the hard work of its employees without thinking much about their safety or well-being. This is why workers’ compensation is so important, as it can help provide financial security after injury and during recovery.