Tesla’s numbers are closely watched because its success hinges on producing as many Model 3s and its other vehicles as possible. But at what cost?
A new report says the medical clinic at the electric-car maker’s Fremont factory is denying some workers care, and is instead designed to minimize worker-injury reports. It is not the first report to call into question Tesla workers’ conditions, safety and health.
The report by Reveal, a podcast by the Center for Investigative Reporting, on Monday also claims that medical workers at the Tesla factory are not allowed to call 911 without a doctor’s permission. Also according to Reveal, the company prefers to send injured workers to the hospital in a Lyft instead of an ambulance, possibly to save money and to avoid 911 logs from becoming part of the public record.
The Reveal report cites work-status reports, named and unnamed current and former medical center workers, including those associated with the company that was hired in June to run Tesla’s medical center, Access Omnicare.
When reached for comment Tuesday, a Tesla spokeswoman said the company would have none. But she sent a statement attributed to Basil Besh, a hand surgeon who owns Access Omnicare.
“Any suggestion that myself or any of my medical team at AOC allow external factors to influence our medical care in any way is false and inaccurate,” Besh said in the statement.
He also pushed back against the report’s claim about Tesla avoiding calling ambulances, saying “all members of my team are empowered to call 911 for any limb or life-threatening condition.”
In addition, Besh questioned the credibility of one of Reveal’s sources, physician’s assistant Anna Watson, claiming that she is under investigation by the California Medical Board. There are no public records of action against her in the board’s database.
“We are unable to confirm an investigation,” said Carlos Villatoro, a spokesman for the California Medical Board, who pointed out Tuesday that any records would be made public only upon completion of an investigation, if it exists. He added that the board is aware of the Reveal report about Tesla, and that it is “taking a close look.”
Also, there is a separate Physician’s Assistant Board. That board has not returned a request for comment Tuesday.
Tesla has dealt with other questions about the safety and treatment of its workers, including those raised by a previous Reveal report on underreporting of worker injuries, which the company slammed as false in April.
Tesla has also been accused of union-busting as its workers have tried to organize, and CEO Elon Musk has made public statements that have questioned why his workers would want to become part of a union.
In addition, Tesla has been sued by injured former workers including a foreign contractor whose story was told by this news organization in 2016.