How to maintain safety in a workplace incorporating robots

OSHA has issued a series of guidelines governing how employees in North Carolina and around the country should best be protected in a workplace that incorporates robots and robotic labor. These are especially applicable to industrial workplaces, as robots in those areas tend to move with great force and could easily cause severe trauma to an unfortunate worker.

The major part of the guidelines issued involve cordoning off the area that the robot works in, making sure that it has adequate clearance from any employees, placing some sort of safety fence or enclosure around it so that access can be controlled and incorporating safeguards so that the robot will not operate while a human being is near it. It is also important to prepare the area to prevent workers from being trapped or pinned.

Training is also strongly advised for any employee who has to work with self-actuating machines or any manager in charge of employees in such a workplace. Policies and procedures regarding safety should be established in writing and communicated to all new hires. Special attention should be given to procedures for dealing with accidents and disasters, such as a worker who gets caught or pinned by the machinery.

Employees who have been injured at work or who have accrued serious job-related disabilities over a long period may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits under their employer's policy. Since the process of pursuing these benefits, which can include medical treatment, is time-sensitive and somewhat detailed, many injured workers seek the assistance of an attorney who has experience with these matters.

Source: National Law Review, "Robotics in the Workplace: How to Keep Employees Safe and Limit Exposure to OSHA Citations", Valerie Butera, July 16, 2015

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