Hasta La Vista SIFs: Improving Workplace Safety With Robotics

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Hasta La Vista SIFs: Improving Workplace Safety With Robotics

For several decades, robotics have been used to automate repetitive and dangerous tasks in high-risk industries such as manufacturing. However, in recent years firms have realized the technology’s capability for improving workplace safety. Specifically, the National Safety Council (NSC) has researched to see how robotics can reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). The most common robot configurations are AMRs, AGVs, automated robots, humanoid robots and cobots. Benefits can range from automating difficult and time-consuming tasks, to providing an ‘extra pair of eyes’ that scan and eliminate hazards in dangerous working environments.

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are both mobile devices designed to transport loads autonomously. These devices do not have to rely on human intervention, ensuring that production lines always have adequate materials and do not suffer from any interruptions. While AGVs rely on a fixed path with magnetic tape and software systems to help guide them, AMRs leverage sensors and AI to find their paths.

Remote-controlled robots like UAVs can be used to conduct inspections in areas that are difficult for humans to reach. These include confined spaces and dangerous heights, which place humans at risk of falls. Furthermore, these devices can operate in hazardous environments, reducing inspectors’ exposure to toxic gases and high temperatures.

Cobots and robotic arms can be used to conduct repetitive manual tasks, including machine tending, repositioning parts and implementation. Using these devices can help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, a common issue that industrial workers face due to repetitive tasks. Not only do these devices help minimize the risk of injury, but they also free up workers to tend to more complex tasks.

Despite the various benefits explained above, robotics is still a relatively new technology, and several factors must be considered before implementation. Introducing robotics requires initial capital expenditure, so firms must define its role and KPIs within their workflows to justify this significant investment. Moreover, there are still potential risks including power outages and control errors. While robotics reduce human interaction, workers must nonetheless receive training on functions and safety features.

Soon, robotics could become an integral part of workplace safety, providing predictive insights and automating repetitive and dangerous tasks. To read more about robotics in EHS, visit the Verdantix research portal.

Zain Idris


Zain is an Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on total worker health and software vendor partnerships. Prior to this role, Zain completed an internship at Verdantix recording major mergers and acquisitions within each practice. Zain holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Warwick.