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Machine guarding can limit robot-related workplace injuries

For workers in the manufacturing industry of California, having robotic co-workers is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Robots are used in many industrial facilities, and safety authorities have to establish new standards as technology advances and new safety hazards become evident. Some of the significant safety concerns when it comes to advanced automation are proper guarding and barriers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration say analysis of accident data has helped to identify the most common robot-related workplace accidents, which helps with establishing safety standards to mitigate those hazards. Accidents involving collision or impact happen when components in a robot malfunction, or when unanticipated program changes take place. This could cause unpredicted movements of its peripheral equipment or arm.

Crushing accidents involving the limbs or body parts of workers being trapped or crushed between peripheral equipment and the robot's arms are also significant concerns. Crushing injuries can also occur when a robot drives a worker into other equipment. Mechanical failures can cause mechanical part accidents that could involve its power source, drive components, end-effector or tooling, peripheral equipment and more. Along with these, pressurized fluids and electrical hazards will be ever-present.

California workers who suffer robot-related injuries might have more than one option when it comes to compensation. While the state-regulated workers' compensation program covers workplace injuries, the manufacturer of a malfunctioning robot might also bear financial responsibility. An attorney who is experienced in this field of the law can assess the circumstances and determine whether a third-party civil lawsuit might be viable in addition to a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

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