The growing proliferation of robots in the workplace has sparked both scholarly concern and idle chatter around the breakroom. One fact that is unassailable, however, is that more and more job tasks are being fitted for automation. While many workers might worry about being replaced by their robotic counterparts, workers who remain on the job will have to worry about new and frightening types of occupational accidents.
Frequently-quoted OSHA statistics conclude that four primary types of workplace accidents can involve robots.
- Impact or collision accidents. With robotic arms and autonomous material delivery systems, the likelihood of being struck by a piece of machinery has greatly increased. OSHA specifies collisions such as unpredicted movements, component malfunctions or unpredicted program changes.
- Crushing and trapping accidents. Similar to the impact, but with an added layer of danger – workers might become trapped between a robotic arm and peripheral equipment or work surfaces.
- Mechanical part accidents. These accidents could involve the breakdown of the machine itself, the failure of safety equipment, the release of moving parts or the failure of a gripper mechanism.
- Other accidents. Common accidents that don’t fall into other specified categories can include accidents involving a malfunction of the robot’s power source or the expulsion of pressurized fluids.
In the coming years, workers will face different types of accidents as well as the same accidents in new forms. Managers, supervisors and engineers must ensure their employees have the information, training and gear necessary to keep them safe.
As technology continues to improve, workers in numerous industries could face unknown danger. Many manufacturing plants and warehouses already rely on various levels of automation to ensure productivity and efficiency. If you were injured at work, you might be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.