Author Topic: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation  (Read 14034 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 »

Offline 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" (à 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" (à 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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Offline 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 +

Online 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 don’t exactly employ people who couldn’t make it anywhere else. So if these employees could get into SpaceX, they likely had many other options too.

Clearly they weren’t 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.

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #20 on: 11/11/2023 04:31 am »

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.

Damn, I was closer than I thought. Truth is stranger than humor!
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #21 on: 11/11/2023 04:34 am »
The company I worked for (in Edmonton, Alberta) had a safety culture so strong that... People went as far as keeping their own Band-Aids to avoid going into the company's first aid kit - which required a report.

"Safety culture so strong we concealed work injuries" is a weird flex.
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #22 on: 11/11/2023 05:38 am »
The company I worked for (in Edmonton, Alberta) had a safety culture so strong that... People went as far as keeping their own Band-Aids to avoid going into the company's first aid kit - which required a report.

"Safety culture so strong we concealed work injuries" is a weird flex.
NASA has precisely this problem. People keep bandaids in their car. First aid kits on allowed in work areas.
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Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #23 on: 11/11/2023 08:18 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.

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" (à 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.

Well said. So well said. More and more insufferable, abrasive, hysterical posts and members. It's like an invasion. To spoof Chuck McGill memorable Chicanery rant  "Couldn't be our Elon ! Couldn't be our precious Elon !"
« Last Edit: 11/11/2023 08:20 am by Emmettvonbrown »

Online steveleach

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #24 on: 11/11/2023 08:33 am »
It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that SpaceX has a more "pragmatic" approach to safety, which most of their employees would appreciate most of the time. People (regardless of who they work for) want to get their job done; they've told their boss they'll have something done by the end of the day, and don't appreciate being told they can't do it because they don't have the right footwear or whatever.

But sometimes it goes badly, and those affected would then wish that the company had a more stringent safety culture. The rest of the company feels bad for them, but goes on appreciating the more relaxed safety culture.

The company has a responsibility to all their employees at all times though, so they need to find a balance between keeping them safe and letting them work. There is no universally correct balance, though, and I can imagine SpaceX being more towards the "let them work" end of that spectrum, and maybe(?) a bit too far over. If that is the case then this article is part of the process that will bring it back a little, and that could end up being a really good thing.

The danger is obviously overreaction: a lot of companies in this situation smack this nut with a sledgehammer, and introduce so much overhead that they make their workforce miserable to the point that they start actively fighting against the safety processes.

Online M.E.T.

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #25 on: 11/11/2023 04:18 pm »
Well, if OSH was around in 1492…ah, nevermind, no real point in arguing over this hit job article.

The sides have been chosen, the battle lines have been drawn. We will either expand life to Mars during humanity’s window of opportunity, or we won’t.

I know which side I’m on.

« Last Edit: 11/11/2023 04:26 pm by M.E.T. »

Offline Dante80

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #26 on: 11/11/2023 07:44 pm »
Well, if OSH was around in 1492…ah, nevermind, no real point in arguing over this hit job article.

The sides have been chosen, the battle lines have been drawn. We will either expand life to Mars during humanity’s window of opportunity, or we won’t.

I know which side I’m on.


Yeah, comments like the above make zero sense, especially in NSF.
This is not a fan site like Teslarati, you are supposed to make an intelligent argument.
And your post is viewed by hundreds of people actually involved in spaceflight. Many of them working at SpaceX.

The argument "safety is secondary because ~Mars" does not fly in this industry for long.
Sooner or later, your chickens come home to roost.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2023 09:05 pm by Dante80 »

Online steveleach

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #27 on: 11/11/2023 08:03 pm »
Well, if OSH was around in 1492…ah, nevermind, no real point in arguing over this hit job article.

The sides have been chosen, the battle lines have been drawn. We will either expand life to Mars during humanity’s window of opportunity, or we won’t.

I know which side I’m on.
We can make life multiplanetary without taking unwarranted risks with people's lives.

If there's actual substance to the claims in the article then things might get a little slower as they get a little safer, but SpaceX doesn't strike me as the kind of organisation that would let health+safety fears grind it to a halt.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #28 on: 11/11/2023 11:24 pm »
Some of these claims (many of which were already reported on) are decade old. There’s no big revelation here. Just a collection of gripes (some legitimate, others…).

There is going to be no slow down because of this hit piece. Maybe it’ll slightly speed things up if it helps some managers think more about resourcing workers better with PPE, etc.
« Last Edit: 11/11/2023 11:26 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online M.E.T.

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #29 on: 11/11/2023 11:51 pm »
Some of these claims (many of which were already reported on) are decade old. There’s no big revelation here. Just a collection of gripes (some legitimate, others…).

There is going to be no slow down because of this hit piece. Maybe it’ll slightly speed things up if it helps some managers think more about resourcing workers better with PPE, etc.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1723425755739082961?s=46&t=eQrUtTJk6IAt4GyTzH7J2w

I wonder what the comparative stats would be for a metric like “injuries per kg launched to orbit”.

As per the above tweet from Elon, SpaceX launches significantly more mass to orbit than all of the rest of the world’s space industries combined. Take out China, which probably has a less than stellar injury record, then SpaceX’s portion of orbital mass jumps even more.

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #30 on: 11/12/2023 02:25 pm »

I wonder what the comparative stats would be for a metric like “injuries per kg launched to orbit”.


Even if you're in a rush, it seems like a more relevant metric would be "how many unnecessary injuries occurred due to failure to follow guidelines and even a modicum of common sense?"

Injuries will happen. Commercial workmans' compensation and liability insurance will "tend" to encourage "better" results.  Law suits for unsafe workplaces will "tend" to encourage "more better" results.

This (American) society (laws, norms, culture) is engineered (by innovators and lobbyists to discourage regulatory oversight, in my opinion) to punish failures, rather than to prevent accidents.  OSHA and other similar regulatory regimes are on the preventative side.

This is my opinion based on my own observations, not with scientific analysis of statistics or psychohistory.
From "The Rhetoric of Interstellar Flight", by Paul Gilster, March 10, 2011: We’ll build a future in space one dogged step at a time, and when asked how long humanity will struggle before reaching the stars, we’ll respond, “As long as it takes.”

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #31 on: 11/12/2023 02:39 pm »
Basically every injury could be traced back to something you should’ve done but didn’t.

There are a bunch of ways to game the statistics. One is to just outsource as much as possible. Another is to do less work period, ie get less physical work done. If you can have 10 workers to do 8 hours of actual physical work, the statistics will look a lot better than 1 worker doing 8 hours of actual physical work because the denominator is number of workers, not work done.

SpaceX actually has a fantastic safety record looked at by the amount of work done, rockets flown, payloads delivered, etc. SpaceX doesn’t do a lot of pure paper studies. They aren’t  rebadging Russian rocket engines, serving as an integrator of Ukrainian built stages, or refurbishing a handful of museum pieces of reusable rockets for one last hurrah. But it still has room to improve. Every major accident can be traced back to something dumb you did or something smart you didn’t do.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2023 02:47 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #32 on: 11/12/2023 03:50 pm »
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.

Not to credit the article's cherrypicking, but to your point, the Starbase injury rate (6.1 injuries/employee in 2022) is in line with the big Ingalls shipyards in Newport News and Pascagoula (4.6-5.9 injuries/employee in 2021).

As those of us who have followed Tesla over the years know, these media exposes about Musk's workplace safety record tend to be union-sponsored and extremely biased.  It is standard union organizing playbook in the United States.  Note that the Ingalls shipyards are unionized.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Musk get into shipbuilding soon at Brownsville.  He cannot leave naval spaceport construction to American shipyards who are incapable of building an offshore wind installation vessel, as one example.  Musk has mentioned the American shipbuilding industry negatively in the past.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2023 04:15 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #33 on: 11/12/2023 04:18 pm »
Might want to compare to per worker-hour.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #34 on: 11/12/2023 04:30 pm »
Yes, that is more favorable to Starbase.  Starbase's injury rate per million hours was 23.6 in 2022 and Ingalls's rate was 22.7-26.9 in 2021.

But you could cherrypick all day.  And in the end, I'm not sure that we can even rely on these numbers.  The argument on this basis is rather tedious.


Offline alugobi

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #36 on: 11/12/2023 06:29 pm »
I think we've come to the point that pretty much any popular media reportage about SpaceX, Tesla, Starlink, or twitter is going to be suspect, because underneath it all they want to talk about Musk.  And that is very likely not going to be favorable.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #37 on: 11/12/2023 06:33 pm »
Well if Musk wasn't half insane, maybe things would be different N
SpaceX wouldn’t exist.
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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #38 on: 11/12/2023 10:04 pm »
Basically every injury could be traced back to something you should’ve done but didn’t. ...

I was at a Great Lakes shipyard in the 2010's one day. A fellow worker was walking through a corridor that contained equipment that had been completed, inspected and signed off on months ago. A hidden internal flaw in a spring caused it to break, resulting in a piece of metal swinging into the corridor as he walked by. The metal punched through his hard hat, fractured his skull and damaged his brain such that he lost use of one side of his body, lost the ability to speak, lost half his vision and hearing and most of his intellectual capabilities. He was wearing the required hard hat, eye protection, ear protection, flame resistant clothing and steel-toed boots. So what is it that he should have done but didn't?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #39 on: 11/12/2023 10:10 pm »
Sometimes not the worker but the manufacturer of the spring or the equipment.
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Offline thespacecow

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #40 on: 11/13/2023 01:24 am »

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.

Number of units is relevant and not mass to orbit.  Otherwise, the one launch per year of SLS would matter.


You're just grasping at straws, of course the mass of the unit would matter, moving a 100t spaceship is a lot more likely to cause injury than moving a piece of plastic toy, that's just basic physics.

And yes, one launch per year of SLS does matter, I never claimed it didn't. But one SLS launch only put ~90t to orbit, if we assume SLS team is similar in size to SpaceX's Falcon team, and SLS team has a lower injury rate of 0.8, while SpaceX team has higher injury rate of 2.0, then SLS team has 2.8 times more injury than SpaceX Falcon team on a per ton to orbit basis, since Falcon launched 629t to orbit in 2022. Of course this is based on 2022 numbers, SLS team's record is going to be a lot worse in 2023 since they didn't launch anything, while SpaceX has launched more than 1,000 tons.

Oh, and the "to orbit" part matters too, because actually testing and launching the thing is also dangerous. Your missiles production example is totally not comparable to what SpaceX is doing because:
1. those building the missiles did not test fire them;
2. those building the missiles did not build the equipment that launches them, the launch equipment would be built by aircraft part manufacturers, whose injury rate is a lot higher than 0.8;
3. those building the missile did not launch them, that would be the job of the USAF, whose injury rate is a lot higher still.
« Last Edit: 11/13/2023 03:03 pm by Chris Bergin »

Offline ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #41 on: 11/13/2023 06:28 am »
Risk assessment is complicated. Comparative risk assessment is nearly impossible.

OSHA accident rates don’t capture high consequence low probability events, these are addressed is safety assessments. Already we are only talking about half the safety picture.

Mass to orbit is irrelevant, as is the number of units manufactured.

What matters is the inherent hazard of the tasks each individual undertakes and the controls in place to protect them.

I would expect munitions production to have low OSHA accident rates because it is a highly controlled repetitive task carried out in a stable process.

I would expect Boca Chica to have much higher accident rates because it performs just about every hazardous operation known to man with ad-hoc arrangements and with constant change.

The Reuters article rightly identifies instances where SpaceX failed to adequately control hazards. We should not attempt to defend this.

Frankly I’m amazed that Reuters didn’t find more.  I would expect managers of the calibre and background of Leuders and Gerst to be driving improvements. I’d also note that we are seeing improved facilities, more automation and proper work access platforms. Although the driver is most likely to improve production, this should also naturally bring down accident rates.

Offline woods170

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #42 on: 11/13/2023 07:55 am »
<snip>
Frankly I’m amazed that Reuters didn’t find more.  I would expect managers of the calibre and background of Leuders and Gerst to be driving improvements. I’d also note that we are seeing improved facilities, more automation and proper work access platforms. Although the driver is most likely to improve production, this should also naturally bring down accident rates.

The move away from improvised working areas in glorified tents to well-designed work areas in fixed buildings is almost guaranteed to bring down the accident/injury rate. One of the reasons why Boca has such a high number is that it not only is a place where very large orbital rockets are constructed in substantial numbers, but also it is (still) a construction site where large buildings are in the process of being constructed. The latter always carry substantially higher risk of injury.
Same for the OLS/OLM. Heavy construction work has been going on there for years, whilst also supporting launch and testing operations. Naturally the accident/injury rate is going to be substantially higher when those two sets of activities are combined. As evidenced by the accident/injury rate at KSC. It's much lower in recent years because only launch and testing operations are performed there. Major construction ended with the completion of LC-39A. It picked up in a low tempo when OLS-2 started construction, but that has paused again. Now there is some work being done at SLC-40 (for the crew accesss tower) but again that won't last long. Unlike what we see in Boca, where heavy construction of new facilities will go hand in hand with SS/SH construction, testing and launch operations for many more years to come.

Offline jak Kennedy

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #43 on: 11/13/2023 08:52 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 +

All made in completely different environment than SpaceX manufactures. Perhaps when Starship fits on a bench and workers can work at waist height then they will be comparable.
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Offline edzieba

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #44 on: 11/13/2023 10:20 am »
The idea that any article that suggests SpaceX could do something better (because other companies have demonstrated it can be done better) is a 'hit piece' is laughable.

As is the idea that responsibility for safety can be delegated to individual workers. Both history and common sense shows this has both never worked in the past, and why it has not worked: if performance metrics exist but safety is not incorporated into them (which it is not if there is no standard for safety that all must meet) then anyone who does a job in a safe manner is actively penalised for it vs. a worker who flaunts safety. Plus, no PPE will protect you from some yahoo 60m above you dropping a wrench because safety tethers are optional and he thinks they're annoying - individual responsibility for safety does not work when the number of people on a job site is greater than 1.

Rather than yelling at anyone hwo suggests improvement is possible, instead improve.

Offline Hobbes-22

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #45 on: 11/13/2023 11:00 am »
Basically every injury could be traced back to something you should’ve done but didn’t. ...

I was at a Great Lakes shipyard in the 2010's one day. A fellow worker was walking through a corridor that contained equipment that had been completed, inspected and signed off on months ago. A hidden internal flaw in a spring caused it to break, resulting in a piece of metal swinging into the corridor as he walked by. The metal punched through his hard hat, fractured his skull and damaged his brain such that he lost use of one side of his body, lost the ability to speak, lost half his vision and hearing and most of his intellectual capabilities. He was wearing the required hard hat, eye protection, ear protection, flame resistant clothing and steel-toed boots. So what is it that he should have done but didn't?

Congratulations, you found an exception. IIRC over 90% of accidents are caused by human error, so that's what the majority of safety measures are intended to prevent.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #46 on: 11/13/2023 12:06 pm »

And yes, one launch per year of SLS does matter, I never claimed it didn't.


Yeah, and I am the one grasping a straws.   Tonnage to orbit has no bearing on matter.


Oh, and the "to orbit" part matters too, because actually testing and launching the thing is also dangerous. Your missiles production example is totally not comparable to what SpaceX is doing because:
\

wrong again.
To orbit does not matter.  Of course, "My" missile does not compare to what SpaceX is doing because all SpaceX workers (minus the few that work FTS) do not handle energetic materials.  Everyone of the 1000's of missiles I listed have ordnance, warheads and solid motors.
Yup. It’s definitely true the solid rocket motor propellant used by many launch vehicles is pretty hazardous, as can be seen from the PEPCON disaster in 1988 that killed 2 and injured hundreds or the 1997 one with another fatality. Or the 2003 fatality at a Pratt and Whitney explosion. Or the 2 fatalities of Amtech workers at Redstone Arsenal in 2010. It’s definitely true solid rocket propellant is dangerous.

And yes, one launch per year of SLS does matter, I never claimed it didn't.


Yeah, and I am the one grasping a straws.   Tonnage to orbit has no bearing on matter.


Oh, and the "to orbit" part matters too, because actually testing and launching the thing is also dangerous. Your missiles production example is totally not comparable to what SpaceX is doing because:
\

wrong again.
To orbit does not matter.  Of course, "My" missile does not compare to what SpaceX is doing because all SpaceX workers (minus the few that work FTS) do not handle energetic materials.  Everyone of the 1000's of missiles I listed have ordnance, warheads and solid motors.
Yes, some safety problems come from choice of technology, not only from safety culture.

Since there's no need to use solids for orbital launch, how does that help your case?

ULA employees handle energetic materials all the time, and ULA doesn't get points for that, since it's a needless risk.



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Offline meekGee

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #47 on: 11/13/2023 12:16 pm »
Watching Boca Chica operate, it looks to me like a giant accident waiting to happen, everywhere I look.

It's all ad-hoc, everything keeps changing, they've been pushing deadlines for years upon years, working at night, in bad weather, etc.

And yet - they are relatively safe.

It's a great testament to how good people and common sense are equally effective as rigid safety procedures - and allow for much higher productivity.

ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline spacenut

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #48 on: 11/13/2023 12:19 pm »
I would like to know how many minor accidents, such as a cut, bruise, pulled muscle, or such that was reported.  Also, how many lives have been lost, or permanent injuries?  Many minor accidents are caused by the person themselves not using common sense or practices, or the right tool for the job.  I still think this is a hit piece released right before this Starship/Superheavy launch.  Also, the more work you do, they more accidents they will have, but 99% will be minor and not enough to shut down a job. 

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #49 on: 11/13/2023 01:12 pm »
I would like to know how many minor accidents, such as a cut, bruise, pulled muscle, or such that was reported.  Also, how many lives have been lost, or permanent injuries?  Many minor accidents are caused by the person themselves not using common sense or practices, or the right tool for the job.  I still think this is a hit piece released right before this Starship/Superheavy launch.  Also, the more work you do, they more accidents they will have, but 99% will be minor and not enough to shut down a job.
Most minor accidents eg cuts, bruises are caused by actually doing physical work.

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Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #50 on: 11/13/2023 01:43 pm »
The idea that any article that suggests SpaceX could do something better (because other companies have demonstrated it can be done better) is a 'hit piece' is laughable.

As is the idea that responsibility for safety can be delegated to individual workers. Both history and common sense shows this has both never worked in the past, and why it has not worked: if performance metrics exist but safety is not incorporated into them (which it is not if there is no standard for safety that all must meet) then anyone who does a job in a safe manner is actively penalised for it vs. a worker who flaunts safety. Plus, no PPE will protect you from some yahoo 60m above you dropping a wrench because safety tethers are optional and he thinks they're annoying - individual responsibility for safety does not work when the number of people on a job site is greater than 1.

Rather than yelling at anyone hwo suggests improvement is possible, instead improve.

I have gray hair..  I've knocked around a bit.

I live not far away from Salisbury UK.  After the poisonings, the place was flooded with press.  None of them wanted to know what was happing.  All of them came with a pre-conceived story and so were looking for any evidence that would back up their claims that everything was so so scary.  For the police that had to deal with it all, and the businesses that had to shut it was not a good time, but for everyone else, life just went on..  but the press weren't in the slightest bit interested, they wanted to show everyone was terrified...  99% B.S.

Also many years ago I worked for a company which was doing some business with British Aerospace, we were designing some kit, they were going to make it. part of the deal was a share swap, so they took a very minority interest in the firm.
A journalist from the most boring paper in the world, the Financial Times, came down asking about rumors of us being taken over by BAe.. no no, we explained, it's a minority share swap, their voice is heard but they don't get control.

Next day in the FT: "Take over by BAe"

If you read it in the press, it's probably a lie.

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation
« Reply #51 on: 11/13/2023 03:10 pm »
Way too many crap posts in this thread. Trimmed and locked as there's clearly no value in the replies, and a lot are offensive which have no place on this site. If you want to post crap links to the likes of "The Salon" - go on reddit.

Also, some of you need to understand how some media work. SpaceX announced they are close to the second launch of Starship. Out comes an anti-SpaceX "Investigation" article (and regurgitated by "Business Insider." Editorial will have been sat on this article for months waiting for max impact.
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