New robotic safety regulations are pending

Robotics, subject to many safety regulations, are about to get a few more, addressing some technological advances for robots. See video summary.

03/15/2013

Flash is required!

Roberta Nelson Shea, chair of the RIA Robot Safety Standard Committee: the committee recently submitted to ANSI an update to the Robot Safety Standard (ANSI RIA R15.06-2012). Left is Rethink Robotics Baxter; right is UR10 from Universal Robots.Standards, including safety standards for robotics, level the playing field in the marketplace when all players meet them. Safety standards lower risk to life and limb, limit liability, help meet market demands, and lower costs by unifying designs and manufacturing. And globally harmonized standards lower costs for machine builders and end users, according to the “Robot Safety Standard Update” from Roberta Nelson Shea, director, Safety and compliance, C&S Wholesale Grocers, and director, safety and compliance, Symbotic LLC.

Nelson Shea, who has been involved in safety for more than 30 years, said safety standards can increase productivity by lowering risks related to machinery and work practices. She presented at the 2013 Robotics Industries Forum in February, organized by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), and summarized some key points in a short video clip with CFE Media. 

Video summary: adoption, plus introduction, bibliography

In the video, Nelson Shea, chair of the RIA Robot Safety Standard Committee, explained that the committee recently submitted to ANSI an update to the Robot Safety Standard (ANSI RIA R15.06-2012). It is a direct adoption of ISO 10218-1 Robots and part-2 Integration, with an R15.06 introduction and bibliography. It helps robot manufacturers, other machine builders, system integrators, and end users, she said, as it brings the world closer to global harmonization of robot safety standards, which should drive down costs. It also includes requirements for optional safety capabilities embedded in robots and for “collaborative” robots, those intended to operate in automatic in the same area and at the same time as humans.

Part 1 relates to robots only, and does not include end-effectors. Also, she said, when the standard talks about operators, it means all personnel, not just personnel associated with production. The new ANSI standard, when approved, will carry a 2012 date because this is when it was submitted to ANSI. To provide for a transition, the existing R15.06-1999 standard can be used until the end of 2014.

Other robotic safety notes, standards, help

A few other notes from her presentation:

- ISO provides a standards framework.  ISO standards are voluntary unless adopted as regulation. 

- ISO and EN (European) standards are meant for improving trade/ commerce by unifying border requirements. 

- ISO 10218-1 applies to the robot manufacturer.

- ISO 10218-2 applies to the suppliers, manufacturers, and integrators of the component or machine (robot system/ cell). If a user acts as supplier or an integrator, the user is required to comply with the standard. 

- ISO 10218-2 requires performing a risk assessment.

- ISO 10218-2 allows the minimum (safe) distance to be based on worst anticipated loads, speeds, and extension, not the worst possible.

- ANSI is market-driven, as is the United States. ANSI provides no technical oversight, rather ANSI requires that standards be developed in accordance with its Essential Guidelines. The premise is that if an accredited organization manages the development process and that process is approved by ANSI, then the resulting standard is appropriate for that market, application, and purpose. ANSI accredits an organization to be a standards development organization (SDO). ANSI standards are not required to use or reference any other ANSI standards.

- American Welding Society (AWS) has a standard for safety of weld robot systems. AWS does not intend to normatively reference the new 2012 RIA safety standard (ANSI RIA R15.06-2012).

- ANSI standards and technical reports are voluntary unless OSHA adopts them, which OSHA rarely does.

- OSHA standards are regulatory (required by law) and NOT comprehensive for machinery. There’s no OSHA robot standard, for instance. OSHA applies to users (at the company that uses a machine). There can be requirements that apply to employees.

Roberta Nelson Shea is chair of the RIA Robot Safety Standard Committee and spoke at the 2013 Robotics Industries Forum. Courtesy: CFE Media video

- Other ISO robot safety standards activity include Technical Specification (TS) 15066 in process, with information about collaborative robots and their use, including force and power limiting provisions. Rethink Robotics, Universal Robots, ABB, and Kuka have robots that are inherently safe by design.

“This is accomplished by having reduced power and forces (also payload), such that any contact would result in no injury or only a slight injury.  When combined with sensing technology, the risk is further reduced to humans who might share the collaborative workspace,” said Nelson Shea.

- Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

ONLINE extras

Robotic Industries Association to adopt ISO functional safety standard

www.robotics.org – Robotic Industries Association

www.CSWG.com 

www.symbotic.com 

Also see the Control Engineering Machine Safety blog, with more safety advice about codes, standards, and best practices related to machine safety.

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