Industrial Robot Safety
One of the main benefits of robotic automation is increased safety of a manufacturing facility. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic along with other industrial robots can automate dangerous and hazardous tasks, reducing the safety risks for workers. However, even though articulated robots can improve safety, they can pose safety risks to workers themselves. It is important to understand their hazards, follow robotic safety standards, and implement proper safeguards to reduce safety risks and ensure successful automation.
Robotic accidents are classified as an impact or collision accident, a crushing or trapping accident, or a mechanical parts accident. Accidents related to the environment, leaking fluids, welding, or electrical issues are placed in the other category. The main causes of robotic accidents are related to mechanical failures, control errors, interference, power source failures, human errors, improper installation, or entering the robot’s workspace while it is in operation. Understanding the types of robotic accidents and their causes can help users learn and develop a plan to avoid these hazards.
There are several different robotic safety standards that have been put in place to ensure the safe manufacture, sale, and use of robotic equipment. Robotic safety standards are a specific set of guidelines for industrial robots and their use. Most countries have adopted their own standards. Globally the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) serves as the international set of guidelines for robot safety. Many countries safety standards have actually been adopted from the ISO’s. ISO standards detail safety measures for the robot, robot arm, and controller. It also outlines safeguarding for peripheral robotic equipment and workpieces.
In the U.S. safety standards from ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are used. ANSI standards have been adopted from the ISO and are associated with the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). It outlines proper robot integration practices and safety devices. OSHA references ANSI regulations as they do not have a specific robot requirement. Under OSHA employers are required to provide a safe and hazard free work environment for employees by following the ANSI regulations.
Reviewing the above-mentioned safety standards is the first step when it comes to industrial robot safety. Other steps include conducting risk assessments, safeguarding devices, and employee training. A risk assessment should be conducted prior to installing a robot as well as periodically thereafter. Risk assessments identify potential hazards and ways to prevent them. Conducting a risk assessment prior to the installation of a Motoman MA1440 allows users to assess the work area, robot limitations, application process, and hazardous conditions.
Integrating safeguarding devices is required by ANSI and OSHA. There are several different types of safety equipment that can be integrated with robots. These include fencing, solid barriers, safety curtains, area scanners, pressurized mats, alarms, etc. Installing arc glare shields with the FANUC Arcmate 100ic can prevent arc and spatter exposure to surrounding workers for automated welding.
It is also important to train employees that will be responsible for operating your robot or those who will be working nearby since human error is one of the main causes of robotic accidents. Employees should be familiar with the robot features, programming, operating procedures, and safety equipment.