On raising complaints in an open letter, nine employees of SpaceX were terminated in 2022. Of these, eight went on to file cases of unfair labour practice against the company with the National Labour Relations Board.
Investigations into the matter revealed that over 600 workers had been injured since 2014 at SpaceX plants across the US. Nothing had been made public since data was rarely submitted before 2021.
In 2022, the average injury rate at three SpaceX facilities was way more than that of the space industry on the whole, that is, over 0.8 injuries per 100 workers. Nine workers had sustained injuries to their head, while one had suffered traumatic brain injury. As many as 17 workers’ fingers had been crushed, while some had suffered severe injuries to their hands. Some workers reportedly consumed stimulants meant to treat patients with attention-deficit issues, so that they could focus and remain attentive at work. As per media reports, workers have sometimes been found asleep inside the bathrooms at the facilities.
Workers often worked in high temperatures of up to 100 degrees to weld rockets and were administered IV if they couldn’t tolerate the heat.
Workers who have opened up to the media about the casual way in which worker safety was dealt with at the SpaceX facilities, claim that the company was only concerned about its goal to get human beings to Mars, and in doing so, save humanity. In its attitude and lackadaisical approach, the company had made it quite evident that it would not let anything come in the way of achieving that goal.
In fact, Gwynne Shotwell, COO, SpaceX reportedly told workers that their entire focus should only be on the mission of SpaceX and that nothing else should matter to them, indicating that they shouldn’t waste time raising complaints.