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Tesla's Lost Days Increase Due to Factory Injuries

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March 20, 2019—A report by Bloomberg reveals that Tesla Inc. employees nearly tripled the amount of days off due to work-related injuries and illness in 2018. According to a submitted report by Tesla to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Tesla employees at the Fremont, Calif., plant logged a total of 22,454 days lost in 2018 compared to 2017's count of 7,619. 

Deborah Berkowitz, former OSHA chief of staff under president Barack Obama, told Bloomberg that the data was "alarming," and the increase in days away from work suggests a greater severity of injuries. 
 
Tesla argues against the conclusion, saying there's not a tie between days off and severity of injuries. Laurie Shelby, Tesla's vice president for environmental healthy and safety spoke to Bloomberg in a phone interview. 
 
“The most important metric is fatalities, and our number is zero,” Shelby said. “It was a big ramp year for Model 3, so there were a lot more hours worked, more production staff and more potential for incidents. We really focused on making sure we had our safety team out in the area as we ramped.”

Two-thirds of the injuries were cumulative trauma, Shelby said. These injuries result from repetitive stress on areas including the neck, shoulders, back, wrists and hands. 
 
A statement was sent to Bloomberg from Richard Fairfax, a former OSHA official who advises companies in the electric-car market, and also visited the Tesla plant last summer. 

“Considering what a young company Tesla is, acknowledging all the regulatory and media scrutiny they are under and comparing their current program with the program that was in place three years ago in my mind shows an impressive level of improvement in such a short time period,” Fairfax said. 

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