- A Reuters investigation discovered more than 600 undisclosed workplace infections at SpaceX.
- The workers cited in the investigation said the unsafe workplace is a product of Elon Musk’s aggressive work expectations in pursuit of the Mars mission.
- The report collected workplace safety data through previously unreported injury records, public records, and interviews with current and former employees.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, arrives for a bipartisan US Senate forum on artificial intelligence at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 13, 2023.
Andrew Caballero Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
SpaceX employees risked their lives to meet the aggressive work pace demanded by CEO Elon Musk in pursuit of a Mars mission, according to Reuters. investigation.
The report documented more than 600 previously undisclosed workplace infections at SpaceX facilities since 2014, which Reuters said was just a fraction of the total number not available to the public.
Reuters examined casualty records and public records from the company’s six largest facilities. SpaceX had not previously reported much infection data, in violation of regulatory standards. The investigation also included interviews with dozens of current and former SpaceX employees.
Among the injury data collected by Reuters, more than 100 workers suffered cuts or lacerations, 29 broke or dislocated bones, 17 workers had their hands and fingers crushed, and nine suffered serious head injuries.
The workers told Reuters that the unsafe work environment is a result of Musk’s view that SpaceX is on the front lines of saving humanity from a deteriorating planet. It has accelerated work deadlines, forcing employees to work long hours at a fast pace.
To speed up productivity, workers also said SpaceX avoids “a certain amount of red tape.” According to employee accounts included in the investigation, SpaceX’s senior managers bypassed safety protocols and product testing. These shortcuts have led to serious injuries, including coma and sometimes death, to employees.
SpaceX’s decline in workplace safety and accelerating work speed reflect the rat race in the space industry overall, where SpaceX is typically seen as the better player.
SpaceX, which makes rockets and operates Starlink, a satellite internet provider, has seen rapid growth. Its value is currently estimated at more than $100 billion. Some expect the company to go public by 2027.
But as competition in the industry intensifies, investment in the space has diminished over the past year. Industry-wide pressure has become part of the reason why companies like SpaceX are putting increasing pressure on being first to innovate.
Read the full Reuters investigation here.
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