With the rapid advancement in robotics, more and more workers in Illinois and elsewhere find themselves sharing their work areas with robots. The existing safety standards to prevent robot-related work injury are being reviewed and updated. Along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Safety and Health Institute and the American National Standards Institute play roles in regulating the safety of industrial equipment and the use of robotics.
Robots are commonly used in many factories, and OSHA has identified the most frequent accident types involving robotics. Contact accidents happen when there are component malfunctions, unanticipated movements or unplanned program changes that lead to collision or impact between humans and the peripheral equipment or arm of a robot. Mechanical accidents happen when any of the robot’s components or parts break down and malfunction.
Trapping or crushing accidents involve body parts such as limbs of workers being trapped between peripheral equipment and a robotic arm, or when the robot crushes a worker after driving him or her into other equipment. Pressurized fluid and electrical hazards exist due to the equipment used to control and provide power to the robot. Although the safeguards for guarding machinery and hazardous energy management apply to robots as well, safety authorities are working on setting more specific standards for working around robots.
Anyone in Illinois who suffered a work injury while working with or alongside a robot is likely entitled to file a workers’ compensation benefits claim. An experienced attorney can assist with the administrative and legal aspects of the claim. The injured worker can expect benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.