Robot Risk Assessment
Conducting risk assessments is vital to ensuring a safe work environment for your employees. In manufacturing risk assessments are used to identify potential hazards in relation to machinery or processes. By identifying possible risks, companies can eliminate or reduce them before they cause any harm. Risk assessments should cover potential hazards, the severity of those hazards, frequency of exposure to hazards, and actions that can be taken to reduce or avoid potential safety issues.
A risk assessment should be one of the first steps completed before implementing an industrial robot. Industrial robots provide many benefits to manufacturing, but it is not without some risk as they are a major piece of machinery. Fortunately, conducting a proper risk assessment prior to installation can ensure safe worker and robot cohabitation on production floors. Not only is conducting a robot risk assessment important, but it is mandatory according to the major robotic safety standards. The Robotic Industry Association (RIA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the International Organization for Standards (ISO) all require risk assessments prior to installing an industrial robot. Each of these robot safety regulators provide a set of guidelines for completing a risk assessment. Some of the main ones to follow include ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999, ANSI B11 TR3, ISO 1412 (EN 1050), and OSHA 3071.
Conducting a robot risk assessment is key for achieving a safe work environment. Robot users should not only identify potential hazards, but also any limitations of the articulated robot. For instance, a risk assessment will determine if the FANUC M-20ia has the proper payload capacity for an automated material handling application. Too little of a payload capacity could cause the M20ia to fail while lifting heavy workpieces, potentially causing harm to the workers or robot itself. It is important to evaluate the robot’s work area and location during a risk assessment to ensure it has sufficient workspace. The Motoman MA3100 is an extended reach robot that has larger work envelope than a standard reach robot. A risk assessment will allow users to evaluate and properly plan the workspace to ensure there is no interference with workers or peripherals.
Risk assessments will also help determine what safety devices should be integrated with your robotic system. Devices to alert workers of potential dangers, those that keep workers away from six axis robots while operating, and those to stop robots in the event of an emergency should all be considered. If during a risk assessment a hazard is identified, users should determine safeguarding measures to be implemented in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazard.
While risk assessments are required for implementing robotic automation, they should also be conducted routinely after a robot has been installed and running. Regulations, manufacturing processes, and technology are always changing. Routine risk assessments allow robot users to stay on top of changes and catch any new potential hazards. Robot users are able to evaluate the robot status and potential maintenance needs before any issues arise. This ensures the work environment will remain safe.