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
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
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]
Cooperage machinery [Reserved]
Abrasive wheel machinery
1910.216, Mills and calenders
in the rubber and plastics industries
Mechanical power presses
Appendix A, Mandatory requirements for certification/validation of
safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical power
Appendix B, Nonmandatory guidelines for certification/validation
of safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical
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
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do
provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker
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
- 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.
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.
OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20).
Robots and Robot System Safety. Includes safety considerations necessary to operate
the robot properly and use it automatically in conjunction with
other peripheral equipment. This instruction applies to fixed
industrial robots and robot systems only.
Preventing the Injury of Workers by Robots. US Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 85-103, (1984, December). Victim entered the working range of the robot to do maintenance
and was pinned between the back of the industrial robot and a
steel safety pole.
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
Control and Prevention
- Ergonomic Interventions In Shipyards: Easy Fixes. National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.
- Robotic Welder.
Provides an example hazard and the innovative
solution implemented to improve worker safety.
- Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology. California Department of Transportation. The Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center (AHMCT)
has developed several prototypes which increase safety
by keeping highway workers from being exposed to potential dangers,
such as unstable snow and soil banks, hazardous toxic spills,
traffic hazards, and worker exertion and fatigue.
- Lockout-Tagout Interactive Training
Program. OSHA. Includes selected references for training and interactive
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.
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".
- 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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