Author Topic: Reuters: SpaceX safety investigation  (Read 14094 times)

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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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 »

Offline 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.

Offline 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 »

Offline 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 »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline 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.

Offline Eer

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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 »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline laszlo

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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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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