Increasingly, U.S. industries are using robotic technologies to perform dangerous or repetitive tasks, and these systems are becoming more collaborative and mobile in nature. While these advances add new capabilities to work and the workplace, they also introduce new workplace hazards for those who work with, and alongside them.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Association for Advancing Automation (formerly the Robotic Industries Association) formed an alliance to share technical knowledge, improve awareness about workplace hazards and appropriate safeguards, and identify needed research on the use of traditional industrial and emerging collaborative robotic technologies.
Recently, the alliance updated and expanded a chapter in the OSHA Technical Manual on Industrial Robot Systems and Industrial Robot System Safety. The collective effort has made significant updates to the manual, including up-to-date technical information on the hazards associated with industrial and emergent robot applications, safety considerations for employers and workers, and risk assessments and risk reduction measures.