Report: SpaceX Injuries Far Exceed Industry Average

Staff
By Staff
3 Min Read

For the second year running, SpaceX appears to have the high score in a game nobody wants to win. Reuters is reporting that the aerospace firm has far exceeded the industry average for injury rates once again.

According to an exclusive investigation, Reuters contends that SpaceX’s 2023 records – recently disclosed by OSHA – indicate an injury rate of 5.9 incidents per 100 workers. Not only is this up from 4.8 injuries per 100 workers in 2022, but it massively exceeds the industry average for aerospace, which is .8 injuries per 100 workers.

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According to Reuters, the data includes self reported rates from eight SpaceX facilities, though the severity seems to be a bit site-specific. For example, the company’s Redmond, Washington facility – which produces satellites for the Starlink program – showed injury rates consistent with the industry average in ‘22 and just above the year following.

In contrast, SpaceX’s newly opened rocket recovery facility on the West coast, which is responsible for retrieving rocket components from the Pacific Ocean, has 7.6 injuries per 100 workers in 2023 – nine times the industry average. 

Unfortunately, the company hasn’t redeemed itself after a damning report in November where Reuters says that its reporters uncovered hundreds of previously unreported injuries. These included amputations, eye injuries and crushed limbs – even one death – and they said workers blamed the company’s “push to colonize space at breakneck speed.”

Reuters says there has not been any official comment on the safety record from either company owner Elon Musk or SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell. 

But safety experts are commenting, and  Reuters quotes David Michaels, a former OSHA administrator, who is now a professor at The George Washington University, who details a two-fold problem. 

Michaels says that high profile clients, like NASA, should be taking note. Not only are safety incidents a problem for worker health but high injury rates, says Michaels, can indicate “poor production quality.” He adds that NASA “should be concerned.”

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