Worker Safety Problems Plague Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Credits: Chicago Magazine

He wants to be the first man to die on Mars via his rocket company, SpaceX. He wants to dominate the electrical vehicle market with Tesla.

And with The Boring Company, a tunnel construction startup, he says he wants to fix the scourge of “soul-crushing” traffic by allowing people to travel more easily underground.

But former employees of the Boring Company, which has raised $795 million in capital and is valued at around $5.6 billion, told Fortune’s Jessica Mathews that those lofty goals, coupled with rigid deadlines from top managers, led to a dangerous environment for the workers tasked with actually building the tunnels.

Employees say they were exposed to chemicals that could cause severe burns, and additional requests for PPE were rejected. They say they would go for extended periods without water in a hot underground environment and that long work hours sometimes led to human error.

Elon Musk (Credits: Beartai.com)

In one middle-of-the-night email last year, an employee in Texas wrote to the company’s former safety manager, Wayne Merideth: “I feel that the company as a whole has been very fortunate these past few months that there hasn’t been a fatality…We have consistently flirted with death.”

Merideth told Fortune he tried to address safety concerns but felt undercut and isolated by the company’s president and senior management. “The conditions they were told to work in were honestly almost unbearable…I couldn’t fix any of the wrong things,” he said.

Meredith was fired for what the company says was underperformance, after which he filed a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Records from the agency show 36 injuries on Boring company job sites within six months during 2023, and an OSHA investigation found that working conditions in Boring’s tunnels exposed employees to the possibility of severe injury and, in some cases, even death.

The Boring Company did not respond to Fortune’s comment request and denied OSHA’s findings. The City of Las Vegas has given the Boring Company initial approvals to build a 68-mile underground public transit system. Thus far, Boring has only finished 2.4 miles of operational tunnels since it began.

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