Elon Musk's SpaceX Injury Rates Soar Highest in the Industry for Second Year

By Madz Dizon

Apr 25, 2024 07:20 AM EDT

Elon Musk's SpaceX Injury Rates Soar Highest in the Inductry for Second Year
SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he speaks during his visit at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023.
(Photo : ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Recent safety data analysis indicates that injury rates at SpaceX sites in 2023 continued to exceed the industry average. 

In accordance with the data provided by SpaceX to US regulators, certain facilities experienced higher injury rates compared to the previous year.

SpaceX Workers' Injuries Rate Exceeds Industry's Average

According to a report from Reuters, the facility in Brownsville, Texas operated by SpaceX had a higher rate of injuries compared to the industry average and the rate from the previous year.

Based on a previous investigation by Reuters, there were around 600 reported injuries in 2022. These injuries ranged from smashed limbs, cuts, burns, injuries to the eyes, electrocutions, amputations, to serious head injuries. The data from previous years is either incomplete or non-existent, according to the news outlet.

The company's rocket recovery teams seem to be facing significant challenges, as workers on the Pacific coast have an injury rate of 7.6 per 100 workers, which is more than nine times higher than the industry average. 

The Atlantic team had a slightly better performance, with 3.5 injuries per 100 workers. SpaceX is the sole company currently engaged in the endeavor of retrieving incoming boosters from drone ships. 

As a result, its teams are facing one-of-a-kind and occasionally intense challenges. However, the occurrence of these injuries is inexcusable, indicating a potential issue with the company's rapid rocket launches or a corporate culture that neglects safety.

SpaceX has yet to respond to our inquiry regarding the recent figures and any measures being taken to reduce injury rates.

David Michaels, a former Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administrator as well as current professor at the George Washington University, highlighted the importance of recognizing high injury rates as a potential indicator of subpar production quality. He urged NASA to pay attention to this matter. 

Based on several experts, SpaceX's ability to consistently offer lower-cost launches compared to NASA may be attributed to their willingness to take risks and make cost-cutting measures that NASA, being publicly funded, cannot afford.

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SpaceX Says It Prioritizes Workers' Safety

Concerns have been raised about various issues at SpaceX, including allegations of discrimination and unequal pay for women and minorities compared to their white male colleagues. 

Currently, SpaceX holds a significant role as NASA's primary commercial partner and a crucial pillar of the US space industry.  It is imperative that the company addresses these persistent issues in the workplace.

In light of these alarming statistics, SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Musk, have yet to publicly delve into the company's safety record.  Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's chief operating officer, emphasized the company's unwavering dedication to safety. 

In a recent social media post, she highlighted that the safety of astronauts and personnel is of utmost importance to SpaceX, First Post reported.

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