Education, Training, and Awareness are Mandatory for Industrial Robot Safety

May 22, 2017

Industrial robot safety has a pretty impressive record due to the excellent work of RIA who has provided resources and educated robot owners. It is important for robot workers to be properly educated and well-trained on any robotic system that is integrated onto a production floor. Contact experts today to get started with your integration and training process.

Safe­ty is a pri­ma­ry con­cern when con­sid­er­ing robot­ic indus­tri­al automa­tion. Pre­cise, pro­duc­tive, and depend­able, robots are valu­able indus­tri­al work­ers. But they are strong and fast enough to cause severe to fatal acci­dents if a work­er enters a work area at the wrong time. A robot that is prop­er­ly installed with well-trained users has all the safe­ty fea­tures nec­es­sary to keep every­one protected.

In 2013, the Robot­ic Indus­tries Asso­ci­a­tion updat­ed the safe­ty require­ments (ANSI/RIA R15.06 – 2012) for robots for the first time since 1999. The updates are a major step for man­u­fac­tur­ers and users in the Unit­ed States and are the adopt­ed inter­na­tion­al stan­dard ISO 10218:2011 Parts 1 and 2.

There are mil­lions of robots world­wide, yet the safe­ty record is pret­ty impres­sive. As the robot­ic indus­try con­tin­ues to quick­ly expand, RIA has done an excel­lent job of being proac­tive to address safe­ty issues and pro­vide resources to edu­cate robot own­ers. The Safe­ty Stan­dard gives guid­ance on prop­er robot use, the safe­ty fea­tures includ­ed in robots, and how to prop­er­ly inte­grate robots into fac­to­ries and work areas.

- Click here to obtain the safe­ty stan­dard that RIA pro­vides -

Robot training

Safe­ty Com­pli­ance Awareness

OSHA relies on the stan­dard when look­ing for com­pli­ance with the reg­u­la­tions and has four main require­ments inte­gral to ensur­ing robot safe­ty, espe­cial­ly dur­ing pro­gram­ming, main­te­nance, test­ing, set­up, or adjustment.

1. Lockout/​Tagout (LOTO)

LOTO is intend­ed to avoid injuries in the event of an unex­pect­ed start­up or release of stored ener­gy of equip­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing main­te­nance. The LOTO neces­si­tates all haz­ardous ener­gy sources are removed dur­ing main­te­nance activ­i­ties by either remov­ing the pow­er source (such as plant air or a spring under ten­sion) or unplug­ging it. Then, the user is required to put a lock and tag on, so the per­son who can lock and unlock it is iden­ti­fied (tag) and the pow­er can­not be turned on with­out remov­ing the lock.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this doesn’t solve all safe­ty prob­lems as some­times the robot needs to be pow­ered up to pro­gram or diag­nose. Mike Taub­itz, the Senior Advi­sor for FDR safe­ty LLC said, I have this unfor­tu­nate dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing done more than 80 fatal­i­ty inves­ti­ga­tions, that doesn’t even count the seri­ous injuries. In almost all cas­es, these occur dur­ing the break­downs, the non­sched­uled, non-rou­tine main­te­nance tasks. Go tell your mechan­ic that you don’t want him to have the engine run­ning with the hood open because he might get his fin­gers caught in mov­ing parts. He’s going to look at you and say, I can’t do my job.’ The engine has to be run­ning to do trou­bleshoot­ing and diag­nos­tics. In prob­a­bly 95 per­cent of all main­te­nance tasks where there’s been a break­down, we will need to have pow­er on at some point in time. That’s why we have to rely so heav­i­ly on the train­ing, skills, and judg­ment of peo­ple to know when to shut down and do full lock­out for con­trol of haz­ardous energy.”

2. Risk Assessment 

The first step towards safe­ty design should include a for­mal risk assess­ment. Every poten­tial haz­ard or envi­ron­men­tal influ­ence must be con­sid­ered. Once haz­ards are iden­ti­fied, they can be clas­si­fied by cer­tain cri­te­ria such as sever­i­ty, fre­quen­cy, and avoid­ance possibilities.

This assess­ment should also include the coor­di­na­tion of the main­te­nance team and pro­gram­mers so the end user has the knowl­edge of the machine and the safeguards. 

A micro-lev­el risk assess­ment also involves a Task-based Risk Assess­ment (TaBRA). This focus­es on spe­cif­ic types of tasks required (non-rou­tine and rou­tine) and then out­lines the risks associated.

3. Safe Guarding

Safe guard­ing is a major con­cern for com­pa­nies look­ing to save mon­ey and lives. Seri­ous and fatal injuries have hap­pened to mechan­ics and elec­tri­cians where the design has failed in pro­vid­ing easy access to get work done safe­ly and quick­ly with­out defeat­ing the safe guarding.

Work­spaces need to be clear­ly marked, so each of your work­ers knows what floor space is out of bounds when the robot is operating.

A thor­ough under­stand­ing of all the safe guard­ing options and capa­bil­i­ties saves time and mon­ey. Safe­ty sys­tem design­ers must be knowl­edge­able about prop­er instal­la­tion and every intri­ca­cy of inte­gra­tion. For exam­ple, dis­tances must be care­ful­ly cal­cu­lat­ed so safe­ty devices stop haz­ards before work­ers reach them.

Some exam­ples of safe guarding:

Pro­tec­tion on the Out­side: Pro­tec­tive safe­ty envi­ron­ment begins with the right fenc­ing. There are many dif­fer­ent choic­es for perime­ter guard­ing. Deter­min­ing which type of guard­ing to choose depends on the appli­ca­tion. Some­times it is nec­es­sary for both hard-guard­ing and light cur­tains to be used so they work seam­less­ly with the work cell.

  • Hard-Guard­ing: This vari­ety of guard­ing includes phys­i­cal fenc­ing and inter­lock­ing safe­ty latch­es that stop the sys­tem when opened. The floors and work areas should also be clear­ly marked as zones of move­ment for each robot. 
  • Light Cur­tains: Light cur­tains pro­vide more flex­i­bil­i­ty. These opti­cal perime­ter guards trig­ger robot sys­tems when their light is interrupted.
  • Ade­quate Clear­ance: Ensures enough clear­ance around all mov­ing parts of the sys­tem and allows for a remote diag­nos­tic” as much as pos­si­ble. When nec­es­sary, enact a bud­dy sys­tem” when a work­er has to enter. 
  • Illu­mi­na­tion: Light­ing is impor­tant to the work­ers to main­tain visu­al ref­er­ences and to read and see writ­ten instruc­tions, but­tons, levers, etc. 

Pro­tec­tion on the Inside: Inter­nal pro­tec­tion is often nec­es­sary in a work cell such as motion sens­ing safe­ty scan­ners, light cur­tains, or floor sen­sors can stop the robot when­ev­er a work­er cross­es the barrier.

  • 2D Vision: Detects move­ment and coor­di­nates part posi­tion so the robot can adapt its actions. 
  • 3D Vision: Con­tains cam­eras or laser scan­ners at dif­fer­ent angles for a more pre­cise analy­sis and object detec­tion than 2D
  • Ven­ti­la­tion Sys­tems: To remove harm­ful fumes and gases
  • Col­li­sion Detec­tion Sen­sor: If a pres­sure or abnor­mal force is sensed on a sur­face, an emer­gency sig­nal is sent to halt the robot motions. 
  • Safe­ty Sen­sors: These can take the shape of a cam­era or a laser, but they both are made to inform the robot there is a pres­ence near­by. This could then trig­ger the robot to slow down or stop com­plete­ly when a work­er gets too close. There are numer­ous safe­ty prod­ucts avail­able such as the Pilz Safe­ty­EYE® sys­tem, the S3000 Expert Safe­ty Laser Scan­ner, and the Omron area scanner. 

4. Train­ing

Train­ing is imper­a­tive for every spe­cif­ic robot (and their pro­gram­mers, oper­a­tors, and main­tain­ers) to ensure the safe­ty of all peo­ple and robots. It is impor­tant to know the safe oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures and when to apply LOTO. A well-trained work­er should know when and how to inter­vene safe­ly and if a machine stops due to a fault or due to nor­mal oper­a­tion. Con­sis­tent refresh­er cours­es made avail­able to the work­ers are also impor­tant to help re-iter­ate the impor­tance of safe­ty and to dis­cuss the always advanc­ing tech­no­log­i­cal developments.

The inte­gra­tor should help train and rein­force safe­ty pro­ce­dures for the robot end user. At Robots​.com, we start you off right and offer free train­ing with the pur­chase of an indus­tri­al robot or sys­tem. After a train­ing course, work­ers should be famil­iar with the full range of motion, known haz­ards, robot pro­gram­ming, loca­tion of emer­gency stop but­tons, and safe­ty barriers. 

Final­ly, be sure to super­vise your work­ers and remind them of safe­ty as it is easy for them to become com­pla­cent or over con­fi­dent to the haz­ards that come with com­plex automation. 

Design­ing Safe­ty Solu­tions with Robots​.com

The extent to which safe­ty stan­dards are fol­lowed varies with each com­pa­ny. Robot man­u­fac­tur­ers and inte­gra­tors adhere to cer­tain safe­ty stan­dards when cre­at­ing work­cells, but many com­pa­nies cre­ate an addi­tion­al safe­ty envi­ron­ment around each cell to include safe­ty relays, cur­tains, and mats.

Robots are cost­ly invest­ments; it is in the best inter­est of every com­pa­ny to pro­tect equip­ment as well as work­ers. The engi­neer­ing experts at Robots​.com under­stand the impor­tance of safe­ty prepa­ra­tion and will work along­side each cus­tomer to deter­mine the best safe­ty solu­tion. Work­er safe­ty is para­mount to our team and we are ready to help train your team after your pur­chase. Robots​.com pro­fes­sion­als are ready to help cus­tomize the per­fect safe­ty envi­ron­ment for you. 

Con­tact us online or call 8777626881 for more information.

Let's talk!

Request your quick quote today.