Topline: While states often compete to attract thousands of new tech jobs, a USA Today investigation uncovered a host of issues—from workplace injuries to housing shortages—at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory in recent years, showing the darker side of big corporate factories.
- According to the investigation by USA Today, workers at the Tesla Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, have been struggling with workplace safety issues for the last few years, with some incidents not even getting reported as required by law.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had to send inspectors onsite more than 90 times in three years, whereas other factories in the area on average only had to see an inspector once during that same period, the report found.
- Injuries occurred routinely, at least three times a month, with some—including amputations, one of which USA Today describes in grisly detail—never even getting recorded by Tesla.
- Emergency responders have been hard-pressed to answer regular calls from the factory in recent years: In 2018, for instance, there was an average of more than one 911 call per day coming from the factory, spanning everything from workplace injuries to medical concerns, according to USA Today’s report.
- The arrival of 7,000 new workers when the plant opened has also exacerbated an already critical housing shortage and homelessness issue in the Reno area: Gigafactory employees found it hard to find an affordable place to live, with several resorting to living in tents or cars, the investigation found.
- Traffic has also increased exponentially in the surrounding area, with roads leading to the massive factory—which is only 30% complete—getting routinely congested.
Key background: In 2014, Nevada beat out other states competing to be the new home for Tesla’s ambitious battery factory project, which the company promised would become one of the world’s biggest factories. State officials rushed through a $1.3 billion tax abatement package—the largest in Nevada’s history—to incentivize Tesla to move there. But when complications emerged from the influx of new workers, state and local governments were ill-prepared and had little financial resources to address them.
Further reading: This isn’t the first time safety issues have been reported at a Tesla factory. A Forbes investigation earlier this year found that Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, had racked up more fines and workplace safety violations than any other car factories.
Tangent: Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Tuesday that the company plans to build its fourth Gigafactory in Berlin, Germany.
I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes, covering breaking news—with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I’ve reported at Money Magazine, The Villager NYC, and The East Hampton Star. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org