Tesla’s VP for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS), Laurie Shelby laid out in a recent blog post that the California based electric vehicle manufacturer has plans to reach their goal of having the safest car factory in the world. The company’s safety plan covers various aspects of its factories’ operations, such as training new employees and how injured staff is compensated after they suffer a work-related injury.
Shelby has had a career in the EHS field for 25 years and noted that Tesla’s been on the right track before she joined the company in October 2017. In the blog post, Shelby pointed out that safety in an automotive manufacturing facility usually boils down to common sense, a well-built safety culture, effective preventative measures, using high-quality equipment like overhead cranes or lifting devices (if you want more information on this, Read more here), and management that actively listens to and works with employees. Shelby went on to say that many of these attributes are already in place at Tesla’s Fremont facility.
One of the main focuses of Shelby’s blog post was Tesla’s proactive stance when it comes to workplace safety. By utilizing this new perspective on the subject, the company can address possible safety issues that could potentially lead to employee injury. Tesla has already implemented this system in its Model 3 production line. A comment from one of the factory’s employees led to managers developing new safety measures for workers on that assembly line. Tesla also prides themselves on employee observation, even when no issues have been occurring.
Tesla has also shown its willingness to adapt and change policies over time to help improve safety culture throughout their facility. A good example of this is the company’s Return to Work program, which in the past has followed the traditional approach that most automotive manufacturers use to reassign injured workers to less physically demanding tasks after an injury until fully recovered. The issue many have with this system is that it typically comes with a reduction in pay.
In Tesla’s newly redesigned Return to Work system, injured employees are still assigned to less demanding jobs, but unlike the antiquated system, workers will not see a decrease in compensation. Tesla also said that if it can not accommodate the employee inside the factory, they will be asked to work hours in non-profits like the YMCA, local libraries and food pantries where they will still be paid at their normal rate.
To further improve Tesla’s safety efforts, Shelby pointed out that the company is implementing a new intensive training program for new hires that will cover the basics of manufacturing, ergonomics and workplace safety. The company is also hiring a new medical director that will oversee a 24/7 in-house medical center. Finally, the electric vehicle producer will hire athletic trainers to work proactively with employees, especially those that are feeling physical discomfort while working.
It seems that Tesla’s approach to factory safety has taken a complete 180. Manufacturers could learn a lot from the new systems the electric vehicle manufacturer is making. Not only are they making the industry safer but their Return to Work program is helping to make the Fremont facility a better place to work. Manufacturing Talk Radio will keep a close eye on Tesla’s latest safety project so be sure to check back soon for more developments from this innovative manufacturer.