How to be safe around cobots

How to be safe around cobots

The deployment of collaborative robots, better known as cobots in workplaces is a big step towards innovation. Cobots that work alongside humans are complex machines, which if not handled properly can cause problems. Some people get an attachment to them because after all they are safe and forget that like any other machine, they can become a problem at some point.

Cobots in workplaces are increasing every day and this trend is not slowing down any time soon. It is therefore imperative that people learn of all the safety measures to take when working with them.

Safety measures to take when working with cobots to avoid any accidents

  • Carry out a risk assessment

Many people do not assess every aspect of the tasks deployed to cobots in order to judge the safety required. By passing, this assessment could lead to some problems in the future.

  • Do not assume cobots are inherently safe

Cobot manufacturing industries like Universal Robots and many others make safe and flexible cobots. They are the best alternative to the traditional robots that occupied too much space and were harder to maintain. Cobots work alongside humans without any need for companies to put in extra safety precautions. However, as safe as we all assume cobots are, they are not inherently safe.

Cobots may be safe in some situations and a danger in others. What you need to do is assess the cobots on a case-by-case basis in order to be sure they are completely safe to work with. The assumption that all cobots are safe could lead to taking on risky functions alongside the cobots without the realisation that you are putting your life in danger.

  • Do not consider the expected operations only

When unexpected things happen at the work place that is when safety problems also occur. One good example is when a worker ventures into a place safeguarded and only meant for the cobots to work. Someone may innocently reach out for something from this spot and at the same time the cobot reaches out for the same object. This may put the human at risk. When carrying out the risk assessment, it is important to consider both the unexpected and expected events in order to come up with ways to deal with them when they occur.

  • Consider risks from all cobot activities

In some instances, cobots move between tasks performing more than one activity at a time. You have to take into account all the activities and movements and not concentrate on just one. Not considering the other minor tasks may affect the safety of the overall activity tasked to the cobots. Are the movements the cobot taking from one task to the other a risk?

  • Take into account objects help by cobots

As they work along, robots or cobots may hold some objects like knives, which may look harmless. However, it is very important to put these objects into account. While the cobot may look safe, the objects they hold may be a risk to the people working alongside them. Other things to consider are long and sharp objects and hazardous chemicals. Take every safety measure you can to ensure that the objects the cobots handle are safe around people.

  • Implement all risk controls

When you look potential robot risks, you may come across several of them. The problem comes in when you choose to implement just a few risk controls and leave the others out because you think they are not important. It is of great importance to try to take care of implementing risk controls for all robot applications.

  • Get everyone involved

If you create a risk assessment for the robot, make sure you involve everyone who will work with the robot. Leaving the assessment to one person is a safety risk and may not help the people closest to the cobot. The people working alongside the cobots know them and the tasks better and have a better perspective on everything on the ground. Include them in every stage of the risk assessment.

Wrapping it up

if you get rid of the assumption that cobots are 100% safe and leave at that without taking any risk assessments on them, then you are putting people at risk. It is good to look at every aspect of the applications for extra protection to the people, the work environment and even the cobots. Do not take any chances.

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