Elon Musk To Tesla Employees – To Research Safety, I’ll Perform Every Production Line Task

4 months ago by Eric Loveday 39

Musk Letter To Employees

For safety’s sake, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he’ll personally perform every task on the Tesla Fremont factory line that has led to a reported injury at some point in the past.

Some Model S Sedans Get Assembled In Tesla’s Fremont, California Plant

Musk will do this to assure that the particular task is being done in the safest possible way.

As Teslarati explains:

“Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reportedly sent a company-wide email, emphasizing the importance of safety within the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. “Going Forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception”, Musk stated in an email according to a post on the Model 3 Owners Club Facebook page.”

That email is reproduced in its entirety above. It comes in response to UAW claims and reports that state Tesla’s factory in less safe than the industry average. Musk and Tesla highly dispute these claims.

Musk’s statement on performing the tasks that led to injury reads:

“I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet with every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.”

Musk is perhaps the most hands-on CEO in the automotive industry and he stresses in the email that the rest of the Tesla executive team needs to follow his lead:

“At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.”

Source: Tesla Model 3 Owners Club via Teslarati

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39 responses to "Elon Musk To Tesla Employees – To Research Safety, I’ll Perform Every Production Line Task"

  1. Kdawg says:

    A version of “Not So Undercover Boss”.

  2. Warren Hurd says:

    Sounds like a very good boss.good bosses always spend time on the factory floor.

    1. sven ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ says:

      Seems like a waste of a CEO’s precious time when these task/responsibilities can be delegated to ergonomics experts/engineers who have chosen the ergonomics field as a career choice, have actually have studied ergonomics, and have actual work experience and training in ergonomics. It sounds like hubris if Elon, with his lack of ergonomics training/experience, thinks he can do a better job than ergonomics experts.

      Tesla didn’t use ergonomics experts when it set up its production lines at the Fremont factory. Every other automaker has ergonomics experts involved in setting up their production lines. Musk finally created ergonomics teams last month, only after that scathing worker injury report came out. A good boss wouldn’t have waited for scathing worker injury report and a unionization drive to create ergonomics teams.

      1. Warren Hurd says:

        Having spent most of my life on the factory floor, as I am now. I can tell you that it is good to have the boss on the floor once and a while. Of course Musk could be talking to Trump instead 😉

      2. Prad Bitt says:

        Oh! And it is Elon himself who told you they didn’t hire any experts??

      3. CDAVIS says:

        @sven said: “Seems like a waste of a CEO’s precious time when these task/responsibilities can be delegated to ergonomics experts/engineers…”
        ———

        A CEO showing up on the factory floor & ergonomics experts/engineers on the factory floor are not as you imply mutually exclusive. Strong leaders show up at the front line with their suits/ties off & sleeves rolled up.

        A CEO that hides out in his/her ivory tower and exclusively manages through multiple layers of executive management to learn what is going on in their organization is by action setting the corporate tone of creating an anti agile work environment.

        1. Kdawg says:

          I thought Elon was sleeping in a sleeping bag next to the line at one point?

      4. SparkEV says:

        I agree with sven. When there are so many other things that should be done, CEO wasting time doing “hands-on” makes no sense. Either Musk has tons of time on his hands or he’s poor in delegating the task. Sleeping at the assembly line is one thing, doing the assembly line work is entirely waste of time.

        1. Mister G says:

          You don’t get it either read my comment to sven.

      5. Mister G says:

        Sven…you don’t get it do you? Musk is a superstar billionaire and by personally meeting all injured employees and doing the work of average workers…it increases employee moral, productivity, punctuality, effort on mission etc… And might persuade employees to reject unions.

        1. JimGord says:

          Exactly !
          Elon is a dedicated leader that wants to get to the root cause of the problems. Explaining that he will personally commit to take time to understand the problems first hand means that no supervisor will be able to give him a snow job and the ergonomists will get full unwavering support.

      6. Nix says:

        Sven, what is your source that Tesla didn’t have ergonomics experts until a month ago?

        Because back in Feb. Tesla said they already had an entire department dedicated to just ergonomics, dating back to the beginning of production 5 years ago:

        ” Moreover, since the beginning of Tesla production at Fremont five years ago, there have been dedicated health and safety experts covering the factory and we hold regular safety meetings with operations leaders. Since the majority of the injuries in the factory are ergonomic in nature, we have an ergonomics department focused exclusively on this issue.”

        https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/24/elon-musk-addresses-working-condition-claims-in-tesla-staff-wide-email/

        1. Nix says:

          “We hired our first dedicated Ergonomist in 2013, and in 2015 established an Ergonomics Team exclusively focused on improving health and safety and reducing ergonomic risk for current and future production.”

          https://www.tesla.com/blog/creating-the-safest-car-factory-in-the-world

          1. unlucky says:

            Good references although the other poster has a point. If Tesla set up a line where a person is installing tires above his head years ago they didn’t do sufficient ergonomics groundwork at that time.

            1. Nix says:

              Sorry if I doubt more details in a comment that I’ve already had to debunk, but what is the source on employees installing wheels/tires above their head?

              Tesla appears to have a machine that at least installs the lug nuts, and I see no signs of the work being done overhead. All the machinery seems to be at somewhere around bent elbow level while standing:

  3. EVA-01 says:

    This is a very good plan going forward for the company. It will instill respect from the workers in the factories. If this is done correctly, this will keep out the anti-free market, anti-capitalist unions.

    1. Nick says:

      In order for a free market to work, there must be meaningful choice and equal negotiating power.

      Otherwise you’ll have a market failure.

      A union just corrects some forms of market failure.

      1. Warren Hurd says:

        Unions are institutionalized selfishness that begats failure.

        1. ThombdBhomb says:

          If workers have no power, exploitation will lead to revolt. There needs to be balance in the force. Managers work together to accomplish their ends. It is only fair for laborers to do the same. Having a mechanism for management and labor to hash out issues is important.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Exploitation? Workers aren’t slaves. They are free to leave any time they want. There is no exploitation anywhere in US when someone is employed legally. No one’s putting a gun to their heads to work there.

            The “revolt” you’re talking about would be called armed robbery if nannies and gardeners you hire did the same to you. I’m sure you’d hate to be robbed by thugs, yet you have no empathy for others who may suffer the same. Apparently, you don’t believe the golden rule.

            1. MikeG says:

              Spoken like a true neo-liberal kool-aid drinker.
              While true that slavery isn’t legal (but still occurs in the USA, think sex workers, Asian nannies), neo-liberal policies like low wages, and tying health care to employment limits the ability of workers to move to a “better” job.

              1. SparkEV says:

                Neo liberals are guys who want $15/hr minimum wage and call it “living wage”. Once they find out that can’t support a family of 4, they call for even higher minimum wage. These guys are anti-freedom, big brother knows best, steal from one group to enrich themselves crowd.

                I’m more of classical liberal (eg. founding fathers of US). Let people be free, don’t meddle unless force is used by one or other. Union is bunch of thugs forcing themselves; just look at what they do to scabs.

          2. AlphaEdge says:

            Yeah, it’s called walking up to your manager and talking.

            Whoa! What a concept!

      2. TomArt says:

        Agreed 100%, Nick. That’s the whole point.

        I really applaud Germany, where it is required that corporations have a particular percentage of Board members be actual employees.

    2. Dav8or says:

      This is PR damage control. Elon working the line will only be impressive if he actually does the one job on the line ALL DAY LONG for as many hours as are demanded by management.

      Going to a machine, loading it, pressing the green button, unloading the machine and then moving on to the next process on the line isn’t very impressive. Hell, that’s probably a fun day! The complaints I’ve seen aren’t so much with the machines and process, but rather the work schedule. Long hours and long weeks. You, like a Silicon Valley tech company.

      In manufacturing, long hours and long work weeks lead to low moral and fatigue. That leads to accidents and poor quality product. Elon may not have a problem with a 16 hour work day, but ordinary humans do.

      1. Nix says:

        Tesla addressed the overtime issue way back in 2016 by adding another shift. Are you still complaining about problems form 2016?

        1. Nix says:

          Average working week is now just ~42 hours/wk:

          “Last year, we added a third shift to reduce the overtime burden on each team member and to improve safety. We did this because our employees asked for it, and because it was the right thing to do.
          As a result of this change, the average amount of hours worked by production team members has dropped to about 42 hours per week, and the level of overtime decreased by more than 60%”

          https://www.tesla.com/blog/creating-the-safest-car-factory-in-the-world?redirect=no

          1. Dav8or says:

            That’s pretty funny. They changed their policies and added a shift at greater expense to them because their workers “asked them to”. No, they changed because of the threat of the UAW “way back in 2016”.

            If the Tesla factory is now all good in the ‘hood and the safest factory in the country, why is Elon tweeting this nonsense? It’s a PR stunt to get public support because the UAW is still out there.

            1. Nix says:

              The addition of the new shift predates any UAW involvement I’ve heard of. What dates are you using?

  4. William says:

    Shouldn’t Elon have management get in the trenches, with some sweat equity first, and then report back? At least this would get him more aware of the repetitive stress injuries, and then the oddball out of sync injuries, that are not likely to happen a second time due to safety managements on the fly fixes. Elon needs to hang with the workers and find out what they think will make their job safer without work place injuries. Doing the actual task, in a controlled workplace situation, is not the actual atmosphere of production.

  5. Kevin C says:

    Fascinating story ahead after Musk gets done in the trenches. I think this is great!
    Let’s hope he doesn’t slow down production or lose a finger (kidding) Go Tesla go.

  6. Taser54 says:

    Didn’t he already spend time tbere overseeing quality the time that the plant was putting out substandard cars?

    Was the solution then the problem now?

  7. Four Electrics says:

    Jeff Bezos did similar when his opressed workforce began to get restless. It’s a cheap way to stall unionization. If the CEO can do your job, what right so you have to complain? It’s very Theory X, but I imagine quite effective.

  8. Leptoquark says:

    That is a very good thing for Musk to do, since he will then have the best first-hand information to judge the assembly process. Ford, at least in the early days of Ford Motor Company, was also very hands-on.

  9. unlucky says:

    I think it’s great he’s doing it. But it doesn’t necessarily cover the problem. Look at the guy putting wheels on a car over his head. He can do that all day. I don’t know how fit Musk is but he could probably do it for an hour. But if it’s deleterious to health the issue is doing it for months or a year.

    Musk isn’t going to see those issues. He isn’t going to see where corners are implicitly demanded to be cut to make production figures or costs either. When he’s doing it it’ll be by the book, the supervisor will be certain of that.

    So I’m glad he’ll do it. It’ll get him some experience with the plant which could come in very handy. But it doesn’t really address the problem. I’ll take some other people who can watch every day and honestly report the problems to do that. And hopefully he’s put some of those type of people on staff already.

    1. William L. says:

      I understand you’re trying to make a point that working on a task for a few hours will not have the same experience compare with a worker work on the same task day in and day out.

      I just want to put out Tesla has wheel assembly robot, so the workers are not doing heavy lifting

    2. Nix says:

      His shoulders don’t look sore to me…

      1. AlphaEdge says:

        Oh that poor robot! Elon, you monster!

  10. AlphaEdge says:

    Sounds like a threat. You better do your job well, or we will have the CEO do it! 😉

    Also, Elon really does not want that union in there. 😉

    All joking aside, I applied Elon’s offer, but in reality, many injuries are related to repetitive stress, and so he would have to do someone’s job for a quite a while, and even then it’s questionable, as repetitive stress injuries can vary quite a bit from individual to individual.

    I always think the boss should be hands on, to help understand things, so this is quite good.

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