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Through the Alliance, OSHA, RIA, and NIOSH will work together to enhance OSHA's and NIOSH's technical expertise, improve awareness of workplace hazards associated with traditional industrial robots and the emerging technology of human robot collaboration (HRC) installations and systems, and help identify needed research to reduce workplace hazards. The Alliance will foster a technical exchange and information sharing among RIA members, OSHA, NIOSH, employers, and workers concerning mechanical (machine guarding, lockout/tagout), electrical, and other hazards, and how best to controls exposures during operations involving human interaction with the robotic systems found in workplaces now and in the future. Alliance participants will collaborate to develop technical training, resources, and tools for OSHA staff, NIOSH researchers, employers, and workers, and will promote an understanding the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) among RIA members and stakeholders.

The goals of the Alliance include:

Raising Awareness of OSHA's Rulemaking and Enforcement Initiatives:
  • To share information on OSHA's National Emphasis Programs, Regulatory Agenda, and opportunities to participate in the rulemaking process.
  • To share information on occupational safety and health laws and standards, including the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers.
Training and Education:
  • To conduct effective technical seminars, web-based training, or other types of training to educate OSHA, State Plan, and Consultation staff, and NIOSH researchers about traditional industrial robotics operational hazards and abatement methods, and the emerging field of HRC installations and systems.
  • To provide technical information to OSHA and NIOSH that enables both agencies to make informed observations about traditional industrial robotics, and HRC installations and systems safety in different industries, and to support each agency's efforts to develop and issue internal and public technical resources (e.g., OSHA Technical Manual Chapter and NIOSH guidance documents).
  • To assist in identifying and developing research questions that may be addressed by NIOSH, and opportunities for field-based research among early adopters.
Outreach and Communication:
  • To develop information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards by creating and updating public communications, and compliance assistance tools and resources (e.g., fact sheet(s), website, etc.) for employers and workers on robotics system safety, including HRC installations and systems, and ensuring that they accurately reflect the latest best practices.
  • To speak, exhibit, or appear at OSHA, RIA, or NIOSH conferences, local meetings, or other regional events.
  • To promote, through seminars and workshops, industry-wide use of best practices for robotics systems, and to encourage employers to develop new or enhance existing safety and health programs.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt, USDOL-OSHA (left), RIA President Jeffrey Burnstein, RIA (center), and NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, USHHS-NIOSH (right) signing the Alliance on October 5, 2017.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt, USDOL-OSHA (left), RIA President Jeffrey Burnstein, RIA (center), and NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, USHHS-NIOSH (right) signing the Alliance on October 5, 2017.

Alliance signatories with representatives of NIOSH and OSHA at the Alliance signing ceremony on October 5, 2017

Alliance signatories with representatives of NIOSH and OSHA at the Alliance signing ceremony on October 5, 2017

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