A Reuters investigation into dangerous working conditions at SpaceX uncovered more than 600 injuries dating back to 2014 that had not yet been publicly reported. Current and former employees mentioned in the report accuse CEO Elon Musk of setting impossible deadlines and hating bureaucracy. Musk’s goal of getting people to Mars “as quickly as possible” has led the company to cut costs and ignore safety protocols, according to employees.
The injury rate at some SpaceX facilities is much higher than the industry average of 0.8 injuries per 100 workers, Reuters found. At SpaceX’s Brownsville, Texas site, the injury rate was 4.8 per 100 workers in 2022. At the Hawthorne, California plant, it was 1.8.
The workers suffered broken bones, lacerations, burns, electric shocks and serious head injuries. One case even blinded Brownsville worker Florentino Rios, and another left employee Francisco Cabada in a coma. At SpaceX’s workplace in McGregor even in 2014 one worker, Lonnie LeBlanc, was killed when high winds threw him from the trailer of an improperly loaded truck. Yet the company has only paid small fines over the years as a result of its security lapses. After LeBlanc’s death, the company settled with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for a $7,000 fine, according to Reuters.