Robot Safety

Loss Prevention Safety Topic

A robot is a mechanism, guided by automatic controls, which performs repetitive work such as moving portable tooling into position, moving workpieces from one location to another, and/or assembling one or more workpieces. However, the robot’s automatic movement and flexibility present significant hazards to its human operators, maintenance, and programming personnel.

Robot diagram

To ensure the safety of operations and support personnel, a systematic program for Robot Safety should be developed and implemented.

Such a Robot Safety Program should include all phases of robot operation. Specifically:

Process planning phase

  • Determine need for using a robot
  • Select appropriate robot for task requirements
  • Obtain robot manufacturer’s specifications
  • Review and evaluate robot design safety features–mechanical, electrical, software
  • Review and evaluate robot testing and evaluation–initial start-up, emergency handling, software, sensory devices, static performance, dynamic performance
  • Design a safe work process and work organization – operator location, prevention of human errors, malfunction procedures, gripper selection, sensing devices, tool overload, overall robot safety responsibility and accountability
  • Provide training – for operators, supervisors, maintenance and programming personnel, and engineers; develop disciplinary action program for safety rule violators; refresher training program once initial training has been completed

Installation phase

  • Safe workplace design – physical layout, electrical consideration, warning signs and signals
  • Environmental controls – illumination, temperature, noise, vibration, chemicals

Operation phase

  • Operation mode – operator, safety monitoring, teaching mode
  • Nonoperational mode – dwell time, maintenance, programming

Safety should be emphasized from the beginning of the planning phase through every minute of robot operation. As many safety measures and hazard control techniquesas possible should be implemented in order to eliminate/reduce/control robot-related worker injury exposure.

A suggested robot workplace layout is as follows:

Robot safety floor diagram

The information presented in this publication is intended to provide guidance and is not intended as a legal interpretation of any federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations applicable to your business. The loss prevention information provided is intended only to assist policyholders in the management of potential loss producing conditions involving their premises and/or operations based on generally accepted safe practices. In providing such information, Great American does not warrant that all potential hazards or conditions have been evaluated or can be controlled. It is not intended as an offer to write insurance for such conditions or exposures. The liability of Great American Insurance Company and its affiliated insurers is limited to the terms, limits and conditions of the insurance policies underwritten by any of them.