The Law Office of Michael J. Joshi
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913-428-0199 KS 800-566-7492 MO

Are you comfortable with sharing your workspace with a robot?

Robotic equipment has formed part of industrial facilities in Missouri for many years. However, while they used to be massive machines in cages to prevent workers' contact and resulting injuries, advanced technology has led to human employees working alongside robots. Are you ready to share your workspace with a robot?

Although artificial intelligent workers do not get sick, they do not develop repetitive stress injuries, and they do not need vacations, they could malfunction and cause injuries to you or your co-workers. For this reason, safety authorities are continuously working on standards to protect human workers, and it is the responsibility of employers to comply with those safety regulations.

Identified hazards

Safety authorities at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have identified two leading causes for injuries to human workers caused by robotic equipment. Those are human factors and mechanical or physical factors. Furthermore, injuries typically occur during programming, testing, adjustment, repair, maintenance and setup. OSHA says if you take note of the following risks, you can take precautions to stay safe:

  • Unauthorized entry: Never enter safeguarded areas if you are unfamiliar with the robots or if you do not have the authorization to enter.
  • Disrupted power supply: Disrupted power sources like electric, hydraulics or pneumatics can cause robots to malfunction. Unanticipated power release and electrical overloads can cause fires, mainly if the robots use hydraulic oil, or you could suffer an electrical shock.
  • Frequency interference: Power surges or losses are some of the environmental fluctuations or interruptions that you may not anticipate. Radio frequency and electromagnetic stability are crucial in safe robotic performance, and preventative measures must be part of the design and implementation of the robots.
  • Installation: Incorrect installation can cause a variety of safety hazards, and installers must follow installation requirements precisely as prescribed.
  • Mechanical malfunctions: When mechanical failures occur, unpredictable and unexpected operations can make robots extremely dangerous.
  • Control system errors: Software, radio frequency and electromagnetic errors can cause erratic actions by the robot, and increased energy that could be hazardous to you and your co-workers.
  • Human errors: This area includes a variety of mistakes that include programming errors, maintenance, interfacing, activation mistakes and incorrect use of the control panel.

You would also be smart to avoid becoming overconfident or complacent around your robotic colleagues because accidents could happen in the blink of an eye -- often with severe consequences.

Workers' compensation

If you have to deal with mounting medical bills and lost wages due to an injury caused by a robot at your workplace, you can pursue financial assistance through the Missouri workers' compensation insurance system. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the state-regulated insurance program can help with the navigation of the benefits claims process.

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