Using robotics allows companies to free employees from performing unsafe, hazardous, highly repetitive or unpleasant tasks while providing them the potential to increase productivity. However, while they can undoubtedly improve working conditions, robotics also come with a unique set of safety hazards employers must address to protect workers.
Most workplace incidents occur during activities such as maintenance, programming, and adjustments of robots. Carefully designing your workstation will keep both the machines and their operators protected. Here are several components that are crucial to safe robotic workstations:
1. Safety fence
Once you determined where your robot will operate (keep in mind, robots typically need more room to do a job than a human would), install a safety fence around the area. The fence should be at least six feet tall and have an electrical interlocking gate to prevent unintentional entry into the robot's area of movement. When the gate opens, it should trigger the robot to stop moving, or to slow down significantly, until it is manually restarted.
2. Presence sensors
Presence sensors act similarly to a gate on the safety fence, stopping or slowing the robot's movement when they detect a presence. Ideally your workspace will include more than one pressure sensing device, such as light curtain installations, floor mats and ultrasonic sensors.
3. Remote controls
Controls for robotics should always be located outside of the area where the robot is working. When possible, include any remote technology that can be used for troubleshooting in this remote area. This will limit the amount of risk workers are exposed to when near the robot.
For more advice on how to design a complete accident prevention system for robotics, contact us at Safety Advantage, LLC.