"It would have been nice to get a call from Elon Musk. But I guess workers are just disposable to them."

Expendable Employees

SpaceX is being sued for negligence by the wife of an employee who was critically injured during a botched rocket engine test that left him in a coma, Reuters reports, as concerns over the workplace safety of the Elon Musk-led company continue to mount.

The employee, Francisco Cabada, was one of over 600 SpaceX injuries that were revealed in a Reuters investigation in November of last year.

Cabada was injured in January 2022, when a piece of a V2 Raptor engine, which powers SpaceX's Starship, broke off during pressure testing. It was sent flying into Cabada's head, fracturing his skull. Over two years later, the father of three is still in a coma.

The lawsuit was filed on his behalf by his wife, Ydy Cabada, in a state court in Los Angeles last week.

"It would have been nice to get a call from Elon Musk," Ydy told Reuters in November. "But I guess workers are just disposable to them."

Rush Job

According to anonymous SpaceX employees who spoke to Reuters, the part that struck Cabada, a fuel-controller assembly cover, had a known flaw that was not addressed before the test was carried out.

Just as damning, the investigation also revealed that senior managers at the Hawthorne California site where Cabada was injured were repeatedly warned about the dangers of rushing the engine's development.

The sheer tally of injuries suggests that there's a systemic problem at work — one that's already led to the death an employee of which SpaceX tried to keep under wraps. Many more have suffered broken or dislocated bones, crushed hands, lacerations, and even injuries that resulted in amputations, according to Reuters.

Breaking Point

Per the news agency's investigation, both current and former employees have blamed the unsafe environment on Musk's extremely demanding deadlines — a trademark of his leadership.

SpaceX, after all, is known to embrace the Silicon Valley ethos of "move fast and break things," which holds that with more failures comes quicker improvements.

Sometimes, though, things can "break" quite catastrophically, and you end up with an exploded Starship — or, far more tragically, injured employees.

It's worth noting that this isn't the only Musk-led venture with workplace safety concerns. For years, the EV automaker Tesla has come under fire for gruesome injuries that have occurred at its factories, amidst consistently re-emerging reports that workers are forced to sleep at the assembly line.

What will come of the lawsuit is unclear, but it seems that as long as a quick turnaround is the bottom line at these companies, workers will continue to pay the price.

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