The use of collaborative robots on factory floors, warehouses, and institutions like hospitals has spiked in popularity. Sophisticated software and imaging systems are leading to a greater use of collaborative robots that are able to respond to unstructured environments.
Pop culture is tempted to describe scenarios where robots are running amok and place people in danger, but the truth is that the global robotics industry has responded swiftly to ensure a collaborative robot’s safe use and operation. Safety with robots is a front-burner issue, nonetheless, especially as robots will continue working closely with people.
Robot safety practices once focused on keeping robots fenced so people didn’t have any interaction with them. During the past few years, the use of collaborative robots has become widespread and safety design, practices and technical specifications have adapted.
Keep in mind that debilitating and fatal accidents involving robots are rare. OSHA in its Safety and Health topics notes that most “robot accidents occur during non-routine operating conditions, such as programming, maintenance, testing, setup, or adjustment.”
From 1984 to 2013 there were 27 fatalities involving industrial robots, according to figures kept by OSHA. The total number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2013 alone was 4,585.