Q. We are adding more and more robotics to our assembly lines, which is great, However, I have a concern when it comes to safety around the moving parts of our robots. In particular, I don’t want an OSHA audit to shut us down. Do you have any easy, cost-effective solutions to safety around robots?

A. Safety is always a big concern in industrial automation, whether it is with robots or any other equipment that has moving parts. OSHA has an entire section on safety with industrial robotics. According to their information, many robot accidents do not occur under normal operating conditions but, instead during programming, program touch-up or refinement, maintenance, repair, testing, setup, or adjustment. During many of these operations the operator, programmer, or corrective maintenance worker may temporarily be within the robot’s working envelope where unintended operations could result in injuries.

Here is the bottom line: any time you are adding more automation, you should have a safety analysis done. Beyond OSHA safety standards, you need to guard your business from an accident that leads to legal problems that threatens to shut you down. In this case, I would recommend you have the analysis of your robotic system done by an independent third party, such as PowerSafe Automation. They will help you analyze all the hazards posed by your system. They also can help you with fencing and guarding solutions that are customized to your particular situation.

Larry Freiherr is an automation industry expert, with over 30 years experience. He is one of the managing principals of ITS, an automation manufacturers’ sales and supply company. If you have automation industry questions for Larry Freiherr, email them to lf@indytechsales.com.