If your facility uses robotics, look for upcoming resources from OSHA to reduce occupational risks

by Brianna Crandall — November 29, 2017 — An indication of the growing importance of the use of robotics in many industries, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently established a two-year alliance with the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to improve awareness of occupational hazards from traditional industrial robots and emerging robot technologies.

The alliance will promote best practices for controlling exposures to mechanical, electrical, and other hazards involving human interaction with robotic systems, including potential areas for additional NIOSH research. The alliance will help develop educational resources — such as fact sheets and a Web site — on using robotics system safety practices and safety and health programs.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt stated:

More than 1.5 million industrial robots are operating in factories worldwide, and another 1 million are expected to be installed by 2019. As robotic applications continue to expand, recognizing the safety and health needs of workers who operate and service these systems is vital.

Founded in 1974, RIA is the only trade group serving the US robotics industry, currently the fourth largest market for industrial robots worldwide. Member companies include robot manufacturers, users, system integrators, component suppliers, research groups, and consulting firms.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to help develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.

To find out more about the OSHA/RIA/NIOSH alliance, visit the OSHA Web site.