NIOSH Guidance for Safe Interactions Between Humans and Robots

NIOSH launched its new Center for Occupational Robotics Research, which is intended to assess the potential benefits and risks of robot workers and develop guidance for safe interactions between humans and robots.

In a news release, NIOSH notes that advancements in sensing technology have led to the development of smarter, collaborative robots that work alongside, move among or are worn by human workers. According to agency researchers, 61 robot-related workplace deaths occurred between 1992 and 2015.

The center will monitor trends in injuries associated with both traditional and emerging robotics technologies such as wearable robotics or powered exoskeletons and remotely controlled or autonomous vehicles and drones.

Other activities will include:

  • Evaluating robotics technologies as sources of and interventions for workplace injuries and illnesses;
  • Establishing risk profiles of robotic workplaces; and
  • Supporting the development and adoption of consensus safety standards.

The center will also conduct research to improve the safety, health, and well-being of humans working with robots and robotic technologies, and develop and communicate best practices, guidance, and training for safe interactions between human workers and robotics technology.

The center’s research priorities include robot-related incident surveillance and hazard analyses, robot incident risk factors, and robot-related safety communications.