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New OSHA alliance focuses on robot safety in the workplace

Partnership intended to improve awareness of hazards from traditional and emerging technologies

Posted November 6, 2017

On November 2, 2017, OSHA announced a new alliance with the Robotic Industries Association and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The two-year partnership is intended to improve awareness of workplace hazards from traditional robots and emerging robot technologies.

OSHA says the alliance will promote best practices for controlling exposures to mechanical, electrical, and other hazards associated with humans interacting with robots and robot systems in the workplace.

In September 2017, NIOSH launched the Center for Occupational Robotics Research to evaluate the potential benefits and risks of robots in the workplace. The new alliance with OSHA and the robotics association will help NIOSH to better identify areas for additional research.

Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA stated, "More than 1.5 million industrial robots are operating in factories worldwide, and another 1 million are expected to be installed by 2019. As robotic applications continue to expand, recognizing the safety and health needs of workers who operate and service these systems is vital."

The Robotic Industries Association is a trade group serving the U.S. robotics industry, which is the fourth largest market for industrial robots worldwide. Member companies include robot manufacturers, users, system integrators, component suppliers, research groups, and consulting firms.

OSHA’s alliance program works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

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