Author Topic: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation  (Read 13894 times)

Offline steve05495

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Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« on: 11/10/2023 02:10 pm »
Reuters published an "investigation" into SpaceX's safety record. I'm sure it's a complete coincidence that it was published just before the launch.

My read on this article is that it is openly biased against Spacex, and smacks of the authors anti-Musk feelings. There are scores of instances of slanted language. Even the title is misleading ".. worker injuries soar.." Reading the actual report, it actually says the injury rate has remained stable.

I don't doubt that there have been a lot of injuries that could have been prevented, but this basically tries to lay the blame on Elon Musk personally.

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/spacex-musk-safety/
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:08 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Alvian@IDN

Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #1 on: 11/10/2023 02:20 pm »
A good context from SpaceX reddit sub

Quote
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) injury statistics for 2022: https://www.bls.gov/iif/nonfatal-injuries-and-illnesses-tables/table-1-injury-and-illness-rates-by-industry-2022-national.htm

The 0.8 injuries per 100 workers for "Guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" category is very low when comparing to other manufacturing industries that is comparable to what SpaceX is doing:

1. Average of all private industries: 2.7

2. Fabricated metal product manufacturing: 3.7

3. Machinery manufacturing: 2.8

4. Motor vehicle manufacturing: 5.9

5. Motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing: 5.8

6. Motor vehicle parts manufacturing: 3.1

7. Aircraft manufacturing: 2.5

8. Ship and boat building: 5.6

Overall I don't see the numbers Reuters presented for 2022 (4.8 for Boca Chica, 1.8 for Hawthorne, 2.7 for McGregor) as abnormal at all, when compared to these other heavy manufacturing industries. I suspect the reason "Guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" category reported such a low injury rate is because old space is not at all setup to be a high volume manufacturer as SpaceX is.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:15 pm by zubenelgenubi »
My parents was just being born when the Apollo program is over. Why we are still stuck in this stagnation, let's go forward again

Offline archae86

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #2 on: 11/10/2023 02:32 pm »
It is a pretty cheap hatchet job, not worthy of the name "investigation".

Somehow it finds it relevant to include photos of Elon operating a Boring company torch (a.k.a. Not-A-Flame-Thrower) and of employees posing next to the carcass of a crashed Starship.

Malice is apparent in choice of language and context throughout.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:16 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline steve05495

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #3 on: 11/10/2023 02:34 pm »
Yeah, I saw that in the reddit sub. Its irritating that Reuters could have done a more accurate and less slanted piece, and it may have legitimately pointed out the need for safety improvements, but by taking such a slanted and biased tone, and not provided better context or comparisons with other vendors, it kind of make the whole article read like sleeze. I work with a Musk-hater who I'm sure is going to eat this article up, nostrils flaring, eyes bulging, torch lighting and pitchfork sharpening the whole way.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:16 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Online eeergo

Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #4 on: 11/10/2023 02:56 pm »
SpaceX themselves are categorizing the company as "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing", except for KSC where they classed themselves as "transportation by spacecraft, freight". It is logical -and indeed the only statistically meaningful way- to then compare the company to what they categorize themselves as, not other very different industries, some of which may or may not have similar standards and activities to parts of what SpaceX also does.

The Reuters article makes it very clear KSC is not comparable because of its different categorization - even though it has a 21.5 average on the only year it filed its statistics (the omission of which is itself a violation), which is much higher than any of the other industries listed, in spite of the small workforce for that year.

Setting aside illustrative examples the company's eminent ruler is happy to air, it is quite staggering how offloading worker safety as individual responsibility, or borne by a "scapegoat" engineer, to have the multibillion-dollar company be "above all good and evil" (ŗ la some high officials blaming subordinates in certain past regimes when confronted with acts they were responsible for), or beancounting dollars in a coma-inducing workplace accident from an already egregious >$20k fine to a plainly insulting $475, is being overlooked in favor of silly anecdotes by "space enthusiasts" here.

Not so long ago, this site valued space workers' wellbeing, including sorrowful dedicated threads when there was a publicly-known work accident, layoffs or other unpleasant events in the business, and the industry prided in its overall good conditions for its highly-skilled, often brilliant and dedicated workforce. Now we get quote marks, an abundance of derisive adjetives and jumping to excuses -all revolving around the usual unhealthy personalism.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:16 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline scaesare

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #5 on: 11/10/2023 03:07 pm »
Given the pace at which SpaceX is moving, it would be interesting to see a metric along the axis of "incident per work unit performed".

If a welder gets injured once per 10,000 ft of linear weld at SpaceX, and once per 3,000' elsewhere, which is a safer environment, even if it happens twice as frequently?
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:17 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #6 on: 11/10/2023 03:56 pm »
SpaceX themselves are categorizing the company as "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing", except for KSC where they classed themselves as "transportation by spacecraft, freight". It is logical -and indeed the only statistically meaningful way- to then compare the company to what they categorize themselves as, not other very different industries, some of which may or may not have similar standards and activities to parts of what SpaceX also does.

The Reuters article makes it very clear KSC is not comparable because of its different categorization - even though it has a 21.5 average on the only year it filed its statistics (the omission of which is itself a violation), which is much higher than any of the other industries listed, in spite of the small workforce for that year.

Setting aside illustrative examples the company's eminent ruler is happy to air, it is quite staggering how offloading worker safety as individual responsibility, or borne by a "scapegoat" engineer, to have the multibillion-dollar company be "above all good and evil" (ŗ la some high officials blaming subordinates in certain past regimes when confronted with acts they were responsible for), or beancounting dollars in a coma-inducing workplace accident from an already egregious >$20k fine to a plainly insulting $475, is being overlooked in favor of silly anecdotes by "space enthusiasts" here.

Not so long ago, this site valued space workers' wellbeing, including sorrowful dedicated threads when there was a publicly-known work accident, layoffs or other unpleasant events in the business, and the industry prided in its overall good conditions for its highly-skilled, often brilliant and dedicated workforce. Now we get quote marks, an abundance of derisive adjetives and jumping to excuses -all revolving around the usual unhealthy personalism.

To me it looks like you don't understand that the way stuff is built at Boca, is more like running a major shipyard than building launch vehicles in clean factories.
SpaceX has clearly been inspired by how large ships are built in today's shipyards. The use of mobile cranes and SPMTs is directly borrowed from the ship building industry. Same for how the boosters and ships are built: from major sub assemblies. Boca is not a rocket factory, it is a (space)ship yard.
As such, it would be better to compare the injury rate to that of the US shipyard industry. Who's injury rate between 2010 and 2017 averaged 5.4 per 100 workers by the way.

Quote from: CDC-NIOSH
There are approximately 165,000 workers employed in shipyards in the U.S., spread across 26 states bordering coastal and inland waters. Between 2011 and 2017, there were at least 45 fatal accidents (4.0 per 100,000) among shipyard workers, higher than the rate for all U.S. workers. There were an estimated 61,600 nonfatal injuries/illnesses during the same period (5,370 per 100,000 or 5.37 per 100), nearly twice  the rate for all U.S. workers, and one of the highest injury/illness rate among maritime workers.

It's all about perspective.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:18 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #7 on: 11/10/2023 04:16 pm »
A good context from SpaceX reddit sub

Quote
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) injury statistics for 2022: https://www.bls.gov/iif/nonfatal-injuries-and-illnesses-tables/table-1-injury-and-illness-rates-by-industry-2022-national.htm

The 0.8 injuries per 100 workers for "Guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" category is very low when comparing to other manufacturing industries

Hey now, have you ever had a papercut?? That's a disabling injury! 


the whole article read like sleeze. I work with a Musk-hater who I'm sure is going to eat this article up, nostrils flaring, eyes bulging, torch lighting and pitchfork sharpening the whole way.

...and somewhere, an editor smiles.   :-\
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 04:24 pm by Twark_Main »
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #8 on: 11/10/2023 04:22 pm »
Moderator:
I edited the title and moved the thread to Facilities and Fleets.
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #9 on: 11/10/2023 04:30 pm »
At BC the factory and its employees are co-located with a crew that is building several separate enormous facilities and in some cases working in facilities that are still under construction. Even if the two set of workers are accounted for separately, the "factory" crews are still subject to many of the risks of a construction crew.

Offline Dante80

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #10 on: 11/10/2023 07:28 pm »
Some of the stuff in that article is pretty grim, especially the employee testimonies about the overall safety culture.

and especially if your workforce has to take Adderall or fall asleep in bathroom breaks or be given IV fluids to cope...
That is a GO fever major accident waiting to happen.
I'm pretty sure that OSHA will have to investigate more thoroughly. Very soon.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 07:30 pm by Dante80 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #11 on: 11/10/2023 08:17 pm »
. I suspect the reason "Guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" category reported such a low injury rate is because old space is not at all setup to be a high volume manufacturer as SpaceX is.


That would be wrong.  Weapons production (guided missile) is much more than what SpaceX has done.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 08:21 pm by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #12 on: 11/10/2023 08:32 pm »
Something many of us have known for awhile.

Offline greybeardengineer

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #13 on: 11/10/2023 10:38 pm »

Hey now, have you ever had a papercut?? That's a disabling injury! 


In the summer of 1980 I had a summer job in the telecom division of a diversified small tech company in Northern Virginia. Among their products were rocket artillery class motors for the military. On my first day the HR presentation on health and safety mentioned two serious accidents in the previous 12 months. One involved a rocket motor igniting in the face of someone doing nozzle inspection. This person had full protective gear on and only missed a few days. The second was a secretary who cut her hand on a filing cabinet and basically ignored it. The cut became seriously infected with an antibiotic resistant nasty. She almost died and was off work for more than six months.

Funny related story - the microprocessor lab I worked in was next door to an electron microscope lab. The guy who ran it was fuming one day about a request from the rocket motor folks. They had an unstable experimental new propellant composition and wanted to look at its structure under the EM. He reminded them that hitting an unstable energetic substance with high energy electrons inside the vacuum chamber of a multimillion dollar instrument probably wasn't a smart thing to do.

Offline thespacecow

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #14 on: 11/10/2023 11:47 pm »
SpaceX themselves are categorizing the company as "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing", except for KSC where they classed themselves as "transportation by spacecraft, freight". It is logical -and indeed the only statistically meaningful way- to then compare the company to what they categorize themselves as, not other very different industries, some of which may or may not have similar standards and activities to parts of what SpaceX also does.

It's not meaningful to compare a company that launched 1,500 tons of rocket hardware in a year to a company that mainly does engineering analysis on laptops and maybe builds a few tons of satellites in clean rooms.

If you just compare SpaceX to other "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" companies' locations that mainly work with hardware, then there's nothing unusual here:

CompanyLocation2022 Injury RateNotes
RUAG SPACE USA INC_1.4Fairings for ULA
Kaman Aerospace Group_1.4aerostructures, helicopters and precision components
Relativity SpacePortal Factory1.6_
INTUITIVE MACHINES LLC_1.6_
Blue Origin Texas, LLCVan Horn1.8New Shepard launch site
Sierra Space Corporation2000 Taylor1.8I think this is their HQ
United Launch AllianceULA-Harlingen3.1Closed in 2023, components for Atlas V
Relativity SpaceRelativity Space - Stennis/Test Operations3.4_
Relativity SpaceWormhole Factory5.4_
Karman Space & DefenseAAE Aerospace6.1rocket propulsion insulation and composite structure

Source: https://www.osha.gov/data/work
« Last Edit: 11/10/2023 11:54 pm by thespacecow »

Offline Jim

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #15 on: 11/11/2023 12:28 am »
SpaceX themselves are categorizing the company as "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing", except for KSC where they classed themselves as "transportation by spacecraft, freight". It is logical -and indeed the only statistically meaningful way- to then compare the company to what they categorize themselves as, not other very different industries, some of which may or may not have similar standards and activities to parts of what SpaceX also does.

It's not meaningful to compare a company that launched 1,500 tons of rocket hardware in a year to a company that mainly does engineering analysis on laptops and maybe builds a few tons of satellites in clean rooms.

If you just compare SpaceX to other "guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" companies' locations that mainly work with hardware, then there's nothing unusual here:

CompanyLocation2022 Injury RateNotes
RUAG SPACE USA INC_1.4Fairings for ULA
Kaman Aerospace Group_1.4aerostructures, helicopters and precision components
Relativity SpacePortal Factory1.6_
INTUITIVE MACHINES LLC_1.6_
Blue Origin Texas, LLCVan Horn1.8New Shepard launch site
Sierra Space Corporation2000 Taylor1.8I think this is their HQ
United Launch AllianceULA-Harlingen3.1Closed in 2023, components for Atlas V
Relativity SpaceRelativity Space - Stennis/Test Operations3.4_
Relativity SpaceWormhole Factory5.4_
Karman Space & DefenseAAE Aerospace6.1rocket propulsion insulation and composite structure

Source: https://www.osha.gov/data/work

Most of those are not relevant.  They have few employees. 

Offline Jim

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #16 on: 11/11/2023 12:57 am »
Weapons production (guided missile)
AIM-7 Sparrow   70,000
AIM-9 Sidewinder  110,000   
AIM-120 AMRAAM  20,000   1200 per year
AGM-65 Maverick  70,000
AGM-88 HARM   23,000
AGM-158 JASSM  8,000
AGM-84 Harpoon 10,000
AGM-114 Hellfire 100,000+
 Standard 15,000+
FIM-92 Stinger 45,000+
MIM-104 Patriot 10,000+       
FGM-148 Javelin 45,000+
BGM-71 TOW 77,000+
MRLS 200,000 +

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #17 on: 11/11/2023 01:34 am »
Why would someone work at a company that consistently exposes them to such danger, I wonder?

Knowing SpaceX, they donít exactly employ people who couldnít make it anywhere else. So if these employees could get into SpaceX, they likely had many other options too.

Clearly they werenít forced to work there. But they continue to apply in their thousands. In fact, it is one of the most difficult companies to get into.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2023 01:38 am by M.E.T. »

Offline thespacecow

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #18 on: 11/11/2023 01:57 am »
. I suspect the reason "Guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing" category reported such a low injury rate is because old space is not at all setup to be a high volume manufacturer as SpaceX is.


That would be wrong.  Weapons production (guided missile) is much more than what SpaceX has done.

Oh really? Who else launched 1,500 tons of rocket hardware per year, performed half dozen LRE firing per day, built a SHLV launch site and factory from the ground up and produced around 1,000 tons of SHLV hardware per year? Let's see some names.


Most of those are not relevant.  They have few employees. 

The injury rate is normalized by work hours, the # of employees is irrelevant.

Besides, SpaceX is literally the largest launch provider on the entire planet, of course the other companies are going to be smaller.

Offline Steve G

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #19 on: 11/11/2023 03:04 am »
The company I worked for (in Edmonton, Alberta) had a safety culture so strong that every meeting, big and small, had to have a safety moment, including those in the office. Both visitors and employees couldn't even go inside a warehouse without proper PPEs and a safety tour that had to be renewed once per year. The safety department was so strict, that if you drove into the employee's parking lot too fast, you'd get written up. If you had a slip and fall in the parking lot in winter, a safety report would have been issued. People went as far as keeping their own Band-Aids to avoid going into the company's first aid kit - which required a report.

Regardless of the accomplishments your company has made or its importance to the nation, every employee has the right of work-life balance and to get home safe and sound after a hard day's work.

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