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Page last reviewed: 11/03/2008
  • Machine Guarding. OSHA eTool. Focuses on recognizing and controlling common amputation hazards associated with the operation and use of certain types of machines.
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Industrial robots are programmable multifunctional mechanical devices designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through variable programmed motions to perform a variety of tasks. Robots are generally used to perform unsafe, hazardous, highly repetitive, and unpleasant tasks. They have many different functions such as material handling, assembly, welding, machine tool load and unload functions, painting, spraying, and so forth.

Studies indicate that many robot accidents occur during non-routine operating conditions, such as programming, maintenance, testing, setup, or adjustment. During many of these operations the worker may temporarily be within the robot's working envelope where unintended operations could result in injuries.

There are currently no specific standards for the robotics industry.


This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), and national consensus standards related to robotics.


Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Depending on the material being processed, these standards are also applicable:

  • 1910 Subpart O, Machinery and machine guarding
    • 1910.213, Woodworking machinery requirements [related topic page]
    • 1910.214, Cooperage machinery [Reserved]
    • 1910.215, Abrasive wheel machinery
    • 1910.216, Mills and calenders in the rubber and plastics industries
    • 1910.217, Mechanical power presses
      • Appendix A, Mandatory requirements for certification/validation of safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical power presses
      • Appendix B, Nonmandatory guidelines for certification/validation of safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical power presses
      • Appendix C, Mandatory requirements for OSHA recognition of third-party validation organizations for the PSDI standard
      • Appendix D, Nonmandatory supplementary information


  • Guidelines For Robotics Safety. STD 01-12-002 [PUB 8-1.3], (1987, September 21). Provides guidelines to OSHA compliance officers, employers, and employees for the safe operation and use of robots and robotic systems.

  • Search all available directives.

National Consensus

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

  • R15.06-1999, Industrial Robots and Robot Systems - Safety Requirements. Provides requirements for industrial robot manufacture, remanufacture and rebuild; robot system integration/installation; and methods of safeguarding to enhance the safety of personnel associated with the use of robots and robot systems. This second review further limits the potential requirements for any retrofit of existing systems, revises the description of control reliable circuitry, and reorganizes several clauses to enhance understanding.
    • TR R15.106-2006, Technical Report on Teaching Multiple Robots. Robotics Industries Association (RIA). Provides additional safety information relative to teaching (programming) multiple industrial robots in a common safeguarded space in an industrial setting. It supplements the ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 robot safety standard.

  • B11.TR3-2000, Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction - A Guide to Estimate, Evaluate and Reduce Risks Associated with Machine Tools. Provides a means to identify hazards associated with a particular machine or system when used as intended, and provides a procedure to estimate, evaluate, and reduce the risks of harm to individuals associated with these hazards under the various conditions of use of that machine or system.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

  • TC 184, Industrial automation systems and integration

  • ISO 10218-1:2006, Robots for industrial environments - Safety requirements - Part 1: Robot. Robotics Industries Association (RIA). Specifies requirements and guidelines for the inherent safe design, protective measures, and information for use of industrial robots. It describes basic hazards associated with robots, and provides requirements to eliminate or adequately reduce the risks associated with these hazards.
    • Note: ISO 10218-1:2006 does not apply to non-industrial robots although the safety principles established in ISO 10218 may be utilized for these other robots. Examples of non-industrial robot applications include, but are not limited to: undersea, military and space robots; tele-operated manipulators; prosthetics and other aids for the physically impaired; micro-robots (displacement <1 mm); surgery or healthcare; and service or consumer products.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

  • Z434-03, Industrial Robots and Robot Systems. Applies to the manufacture, remanufacture, rebuild, installation, safeguarding, maintenance and repair, testing and start-up, and personnel training requirements for industrial robots and robot systems.

American Welding Society (AWS)

  • D16.1M/D16.1, Specification For Robotic Arc Welding Safety. Identifies hazards involved in maintaining, operating, integrating, and setting up arc welding robot systems.

Hazard Recognition

Hazards are present in every work environment. Being unaware of them when dealing with robotics can be fatal. The following references aid in recognizing hazards related to robotics in the workplace.

Hazard Evaluation and Solutions

In order to make an impact in reducing the number of injuries and fatalities due to robotics in the workplace, more than just hazard recognition needs to occur. It is important that once the hazards are identified that measures of control for worker safety are put into place and followed. The following references aid in evaluating hazards and possible solutions to controlling robotic hazards in the workplace.

Hazard Evaluation

Control and Prevention

Robotics Benefits

Case Studies

  • Lockout-Tagout Interactive Training Program. OSHA. Includes selected references for training and interactive case studies.
  • Mold Setter's Head Struck By a Cycling Single-side Gantry Robot. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 01MI002. A 29-year old male died from injuries sustained when he was struck on the head by a cycling single-side gantry robot.

  • Machine Operator Crushed By Robotic Platform. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Nebraska Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 99NE017. A 23-year-old carousel operator at a meat packing plant was killed when his foot tripped a light sensor causing a computer controlled robotic platform to come down from above, crushing his skull.

  • Fatal Accident Summary Report: Die Cast Operator Pinned by Robot. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) In-house Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 8420. The evaluation of this fatal incident allows general recommendations to be made which are applicable to all establishments and workers who use or anticipate using robots. These recommendations pertain to three categories: ergonomic design, training, and supervision.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages


  • Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Audiovisual Catalog [884 KB PDF, 61 pages]. Maryland Occupational Safety and Hazards (MOSH), Division of Labor and Industry. Contains a list of library audiovisual materials for check-out, including a Robotic Industries Association (RIA) video entitled "Robot Safety: Assessing Risks, Preventing Accidents".

Other Resources.

  • Safety and Security Division (SAFE). Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA). The safety division of ISA programs safety related session at society conferences, maintains a website, and publishes ISA safety papers.

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