In the context of rapidly evolving industries, robotics plays a crucial role in enhancing productivity and workplace safety. As the use of industrial robots continues to grow, it is essential to prioritize robot safety to prevent accidents and injuries. While collaborative robots, also known as cobots, provide unique opportunities for human-robot interaction, they also bring new challenges in terms of safety. This article delves into the key aspects of robot safety, providing valuable insights and guidelines to ensure the well-being of workers while maximizing the benefits of automation.

Importance of robot safety

The rapid growth of robotics in various industries, such as manufacturing, warehousing, and petrochemicals, has transformed the way tasks are performed. Industrial robots are capable of handling hazardous, repetitive, and unpleasant tasks, thereby reducing the risk of injuries to human workers. However, it is crucial to address the safety concerns associated with robot-human collaboration to mitigate the potential risks and ensure a safe working environment.

Hazard recognition and assessment

Before implementing robotic systems, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive hazard recognition and assessment process. This involves identifying potential risks and hazards associated with the use of robots in the workplace. Factors such as the type of tasks performed, robot-human interaction, and the working environment should be taken into consideration. By conducting a thorough assessment, it becomes possible to implement appropriate safety measures and safeguards to minimize potential hazards.

Standards and regulations

While there are currently no specific OSHA standards for the robotics industry, it’s essential for organizations to adhere to existing safety standards. Notably, compliance with regulations such as the American National Standards Institute’s Section R15.06-2012 and the International Organization for Standardization’s robot standards, like ISO 10218, is vital. These standards offer comprehensive guidelines for identifying risks, designing safety measures, testing robot safety, and effectively operating robotic systems. Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that these regulations can vary from one country to another. Therefore, organizations should ensure compliance with local and international standards, and consult resources like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s technical manual on “Industrial Robot Systems and Industrial Robot System Safety” for in-depth guidance and best practices in robot integration and safety.

Ensuring safe work environments

Creating a safe work environment is paramount when integrating robots into the workplace. Here are some key practices to consider:

  1. Physical barriers and sensors

Implement physical barriers, such as guardrails, chain link fencing, or walls, to restrict access to robot work areas. Additionally, use floor sensors that can slow down or stop the robot when an employee comes too close. Light curtains and electric safety mats can also be utilized to interrupt the robot’s operation if an employee enters a protected area.

  1. Lockout/tagout procedures

Train employees on proper lockout/tagout procedures to ensure that robots are safely shut off during maintenance or repair work. Locking out the robot’s energy source is essential to prevent unexpected movement or startup that can lead to injuries.

  1. Interlinking programming and safety devices

Establish procedures to interlink the robot’s programming with electronic safety devices, such as light curtains, shutoff sensors, or door interlocks. This integration ensures that if a safety device is triggered, the robot’s tasks are halted immediately, preventing potential accidents.

  1. Clear communication of safety rules

Human error is a leading cause of workplace accidents. Regularly communicate and post safety rules in the workplace to remind employees of best practices. This includes keeping the robot work area clear of obstructions, avoiding loose-fitting clothing, tying up long hair, wearing safety glasses, and removing the tech pendant from the robot’s work area.

  1. Training and risk assessments

Provide comprehensive training to employees on the safe operation and maintenance of robots. Ensure that employees are familiar with the manufacturer’s best practices for safety and maintenance protocols. Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards and implement appropriate control measures.

Mobile robot safety

While the focus has primarily been on fixed robots, ensuring safety for mobile robots is equally important. Mobile robots are employed in various industries, where humans may interact with them. The unique challenges of mobile robots operating in unstructured environments necessitate specific safety measures:

  1. Accurate and reliable sensory systems

Mobile robots must be equipped with accurate, reliable, and redundant sensory systems to perceive their environment. These sensors provide crucial information for navigation, obstacle avoidance, and human detection, ensuring safe interaction with the surroundings.

  1. Reliable software

The software that controls mobile robots should be reliable and robust. It should prioritize safety by incorporating fail-safe mechanisms and error handling strategies. This ensures that the robot can respond appropriately to unexpected situations or sensor inaccuracies.

  1. Operating at low speeds

To reduce the risk of collisions and injuries, mobile robots should operate at low speeds. Slower speeds allow the robot to react and adapt to dynamic changes in the environment, thereby ensuring the safety of both humans and the robot itself.

  1. Braking and emergency stop systems

Mobile robots should be equipped with braking and emergency stop systems to halt their motion when necessary. These systems enable immediate action in the event of an emergency or when external hazards are detected.

Maintenance and modification of robot systems

Proper maintenance and modification of robot systems are essential to ensure their continued safe operation. Consider the following practices:

  1. Well-Defined maintenance procedures

Develop well-documented maintenance procedures to guide technicians in maintaining robot systems. This includes routine inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and calibration of the robot components.

  1. Precautions during maintenance

During maintenance activities, technicians should take precautions to prevent unexpected movements or activations of the robot. This may involve isolating power sources, locking out control panels, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

  1. Training for maintenance personnel

Provide comprehensive training to maintenance personnel on the safe handling and maintenance of robot systems. Ensure that they are aware of potential hazards and equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to mitigate risks.


Robot safety is a critical aspect of workplace safety in industries utilizing robotics. By implementing proper safety measures, organizations can ensure the well-being of their employees while reaping the benefits of automation. Hazard recognition and assessment, adherence to safety standards, and the implementation of physical barriers, interlinked programming, and training programs are essential for a safe working environment. Furthermore, mobile robot safety and proper maintenance and modification practices contribute to the overall safety and efficiency of robot systems. By prioritizing robot safety, organizations can create a workplace where humans and robots can collaborate effectively and securely.

Remember, ensuring robot safety is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation, training, and improvement. By staying informed about the latest safety practices and technological advancements, organizations can stay at the forefront of robot safety and maintain a safe and productive work environment.

If you’re ready to revolutionize your manufacturing processes with robotics, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We’re here to assist manufacturing firms in successfully implementing robots and achieving new levels of efficiency and productivity. Contact us now to start your automation journey!