OSHA Safety Requirements for Robots
Robotic safety is an important aspect of implementing industrial robots. There are multiple safety standards that should be reviewed and followed. It is important to ensure the articulated robot itself is safe as well as the work environment. OSHA guidelines pertain to implementing and maintaining a safe operating environment for the industrial robot and the people working around the robot. OSHA does not have their own specific regulations for robots as they follow those set forth by ANSI/RIA. However, they do outline the measures that should be taken in order to safeguard a work environment with robots and reduce potential hazards. OSHA guidelines apply to those that manufacturer, integrate, or use industrial robots.
Safety ConsiderationsOSHA outlines several safety considerations for industrial robots. They require that a risk assessment be conducted at each stage of robot development. This includes designing the application, integrating the robot, operating the robot, and maintaining it. Each risk assessment should outline the worker and system safety requirements at each stage of development and be documented. Risk assessments allow users of a FANUC Arcmate 120ic or another robot to determine potential hazards and the appropriate safety measures to be taken to eliminate or reduce those hazards.
OSHA also outlines that safeguarding devices must be implemented with industrial robots to ensure a safe operating space for the robot and to protect workers from the robot’s operation. Safeguarding devices that can be used to restrict the work area of a robot include fixed barriers, presence-sensing equipment, and interlocking guards. Fixed barriers refer to safety fencing which prevents workers from accessing the robot’s work area. Presence-sensing equipment may include pressurized mats, light curtains, or area scanners. These devices can stop robot operation when they are triggered by the presence of a worker. Interlocking guards refer to doors of a workcell. Workers will need access to the robot at times, interlocking doors enclose the robot’s work area while stopping its operation when the doors are opened, allowing workers to safety entire the robotic workcell.
In addition to safeguarding devices, OSHA also requires awareness devices be used in conjunction. These may include flashing lights, signs, alarms, whistles, or horns. For instance, flashing lights can be used when a ABB 6640 is operating as a visual alert to workers outside the workcell. This provides an additional level of awareness during a robot’s operation. It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of an awareness device with the hazard level.
OSHA also outlines that regular maintenance should occur in order to safeguard the robot. Robotic maintenance is not only key for preserving your six axis robot, but also for ensuring the safe operation of the robot. Conducting routine inspections and maintenance minimizes hazards that are attributed to mechanical malfunctions, wear and tear of parts, and system failures by catching any of these potential issues beforehand.
Lastly, OSHA outlines that anyone involved with the installation, programming, integration, operation , or maintenance of an industrial robot receive proper training. Workers should be familiar with the safety features of a FANUC R-2000ib or any other industrial robot along with ANSI/RIA safety standards.