Elon Musk is facing another labour issue as one of the major German autoworkers unions is claiming that Tesla employees are suffering an alarming frequency of serious injuries that have included burns and at least one amputation.
German news magazine Stern reports that emergency services were called to the Grunheide factory, on the outskirts of Berlin, around 250 times in 2022 alone.
The Y-Model producing factory opened after more than two years of construction in March 2022. It employs 12,000 people and aims to produce 500,000 vehicles.
‘This frequency of accidents at work is not normal. I am really concerned that at some point someone will be killed,’ union spokesman Dirk Schulze told The Daily Telegraph.
In one instance, it’s reported that a 110 pound crate fell on the head of a worker.
Musk stands next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during the official opening of the Gruenheide factory
German news magazine Stern reports that emergency services were called to the Grunheide factory, on the outskirts of Berlin , around 250 times in 2022 alone
Other medical issues have included severe burns incurred as workers made contact with aluminum ovens or hydrochloric acid. Electric shocks, nosebleeds, coughs, rashes and headaches have also been reported, those complaints were caused by aluminum dust.
For the report, Stern magazine ‘smuggled’ two reporters into the factory. The reporters cited a lack of instruction, protective equipment and pressure to produce as the apparent reasons for the high-volume of accidents.
It was reported in July that Tesla planned to increase productivity in Germany, with a view to hitting a target of building one million cars per month. A expansion, including a shuttle bus service, to the factory is planned.
In Germany, Tesla overtook Volkswagen in 2023 in terms of electronic vehicle sales.
One employee told the magazine that she was asked to examine engine parts without any training.
Schulez told the Telegraph that the callouts to the Tesla factory are ‘several times more than what is common in other car companies.’ The Stern report says that between June 2022 and November 2022, there were 190 reported accidents, the equivalent of nearly one every day.
Tesla founder Musk has been at-odds with German autoworkers unions for some time. In January, the biggest union, IG Metall went public with their concerns about members working in the Grunheide facility.
Concerns included the temperatures in the factory and the arduous hours. Employees are bound by strict confidentiality agreements.
According to the Telegraph’s report, the Grunheide factory was looking to hire a security intelligence investigator to work on ‘internal and external threats.’
The advert said candidates should have ‘several years of experience … as a police officer or in the intelligence community.’
During the opening ceremony, Musk performed an impromptu dance
In Germany, Tesla overtook Volkswagen in 2023 in terms of electronic vehicle sales
In addition to the injuries to workers, there have also been 26 environmental accidents at the factory, according to Stern.
Health and safety issues for staff in factories in Germany is under the purview of the State Office for Occupational Safety and Health.
The Stern reporters allege that because their visits are also pre-arranged, staff make temporary changes in order to remain up to code.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended the opening ceremony in Gruenheide, southeast of the German capital, with Musk, who performed an impromptu dance for fans as the first cars rolled out of the factory for delivery.
He later posted a comment on Twitter thanking Germany with the words ‘Danke Deutschland!’ surrounded by German flags.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the opening of the factory was ‘a nice symbol’ that gasoline-powered cars can be replaced with electric vehicles at a time when Germany and other European nations are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and wean themselves off Russian oil.
Tesla began building the vast facility less than three years ago, before it received official permits to do so. Had those permits not been issued, the company would have had to level the site.
‘That’s a different company risk culture,’ Habeck said, after being asked to compare Tesla’s approach with the slow pace of German construction projects such as Berlin’s nearby new airport, which opened with a nine-year delay.
Environmental activists have long warned that the factory could affect drinking water supplies in the region.
Tesla has dismissed those warnings, according to the Associated Press. DailyMail.com has reached out to Tesla for comment.