Workers Compensation Attorneys on Tesla Injuries
A new study commissioned by Tesla workers found that automaker’s factory in the last two years had about one-third more worker accidents and twice the rate of serious injuries compared to other automakers. According to a news report in the San Jose Mercury News, this report is the latest episode in an ongoing dispute between Tesla and its workers who are seeking to form a union. Worksafe, a non-profit worker advocacy group, conducted the study.
High Rate of Work-Related Injuries
The report stated that the recorded workplace accidents in 2015 at Tesla were 31 percent higher than the average auto plant. The rate of serious injury, which the study measured by days away from work, job transfers and restricted duty, was about twice the industry average. Tesla has acknowledged that long work hours and pressure to deliver more vehicles have led to tough working conditions for its employees. However, the automaker has said it has made “broad changed” and improved worker safety.
Tesla also claims that it now has the lowest injury rate in the industry and it is working with the goal of “having close to zero injuries as humanly possible to become the safest factory in the auto industry.” Tesla has credited the improvement to adding a third shift, reducing worker hours and placing more emphasis on ergonomics.
Repetitive Stress Injuries Suffered
Still, Worksafe is disputing the company’s assertion that its factory floor is getting safer for workers saying that one quarter is simply not enough time to identify a meaningful trend in injury reduction. Safety advocates have also expressed concerns that increased demands on workers making a brand new vehicle (the Model 3) could mean more significant changes to the factory’s environment in the coming years and months. The reported injuries at Tesla mostly came from poor ergonomic planning and repetitive stress, safety advocates say.
Tesla factory employees are currently involved in an effort to unionize the plant. The automaker employs about 10,000 workers at its Fremont, Calif. office and 30,000 around the world. Employees are speaking up about the need for more regular hours, better training and ergonomics. One of the workers said he worked 12-hour shift for six days a week and suffered repetitive stress injuries. He said many other workers are suffering as well, but are afraid to speak up due to the fear of retaliation.
Understanding Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are quite common on the job. These injuries are conditions associated with repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression and sustained or awkward positions. Since there are so many potential causes of repetitive stress injuries, there are a number of potential symptoms including:
- Tenderness or pain in the affected muscle or joint
- A throbbing sensation in the affected area
- Tingling sensation particularly in the hand or arm
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of strength or mobility
RSIs are often caused by overuse of a particular muscle or group of muscles; vibrating equipment; working in cold temperatures; poor posture or a non-ergonomically designed workplace; forceful activities; holding the same posture for prolonged periods of time; direct pressure to certain parts of the body; carrying heavy loads; increased psychological stress; and fatigue.
Common Examples of RSIs
There is a long list of conditions that could potentially be brought on by repetitive stress. A few examples include:
- Edema: This refers to swelling or fluid buildup in cavities.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Painful compression of a nerve as it passes across the front of the wrist.
- De Quervain syndrome: Pressure on the nerve in the “funny bone” area. This might be brought on by repeated or prolonged pressure in the area or from stretching the nerve for long periods of time.
- Radial tunnel syndrome: This condition causes a dull pain at the top of the forearm. Overuse of the arm to push or pull, or overuse of the hand and wrist can irritate the nerve and cause pain.
- Raynaud’s disease: This refers to the collapse of blood vessels in the extremities when cold or stressed; this condition can be brought on by work involving vibration. Laborers such as jackhammer operators, for instance, are prone to this condition.
- Thoracic outlet syndrome: This occurs when blood vessels or nerves become trapped between the collarbone and first rib. It mostly affects people who have occupations involving heavy usage of the upper extremities against resistance,
- Dupuytren’s contracture: This is the thickening of deep tissue in the palm of the hand and fingers that, if left unchecked, leads to permanently bent fingers. Users of vibrating tools can be at risk.
- Rotator cuff syndrome: This is the damage to any of the tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place, particularly common in work where prolonged overhead activity is necessary.
What Actions Can You Take?
If you suspect that you are suffering from work-related repetitive stress injuries, it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect your rights. Report your injuries or condition to your employer/supervisor right away. See an employer-approved doctor so you can start getting the treatment and care you need. The doctor may refer you to a specialist who may suggest a course of treatment, which could include anything from physical therapy to surgery. It is also important that you file a workers’ compensation claim, which will help you seek and obtain the necessary benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits will usually include monetary support for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. In addition, if you are disabled as a result of repetitive stress injuries, you should be able to receive disability benefits as well.
The workers’ compensation process can be complex and intimidating. It is important that you get an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer on your side as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you file the necessary paperwork, compile medical evidence you need to prove that you are injured and help ensure that your legal rights are protected every step of the way. Call the ODG Law Group at 818-230-2428 to find out how we can help you.