The decision to add robotics to any work environment must be preceded by system planning and risk assessment. Conducting the risk assessment involves identifying the purpose of the robot, determining how it will be used, and determining how it could be misused. Risk assessment also provides an opportunity to identify the physical and operational limitations of the robot and the full system.
As part of the planning and assessment phase, any foreseeable hazards and potentially threatening conditions will be documented. This should include any and all human interaction with the robot and system during any phase of its operation. Identification of each potential hazard during risk assessment will allow the implementation team to determine what types of functional safety controls should be incorporated to mitigate the risks.
Engineering and Administrative Robotic System Controls
Engineered controls are one approach to making robotic systems safer, which involves restricting access to the potentially hazardous areas. Some examples of engineered controls include:
- Pressure sensitive mats
- Area scanners for designated areas
- Presence detecting devices
- Two-hand actuation systems
- Electromechanical interlocking doors
Administrative controls are another approach to prevention. The effectiveness of these types of controls depends on the proper response of the humans involved. Some examples of administrative controls include:
- Warning signs
- Warning lights
- Audible alarms
- Mandatory training, operating, and maintenance procedures
OSHA/RIA & Robotic Systems Management
Some of the recommendations of OSHA & RIA concerning robotic systems include safety training and competency evaluations for employees that will program, operate, or maintain the robots and associated equipment. In some cases, depending on the system and the process involved, employees may be required to provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, face shields, hearing protection, safety glasses, safety shoes, and hard hats.
The robotic system planning and risk assessment process can be made much easier with the assistance of an experienced robotic systems integrator. The Remtec team of experienced engineers is ready to work with you on risk assessment evaluation and implementing the proper balance of controls, to ensure your industrial robots operate safely and effectively.