Robot Safety


Industrial robots can be dangerous. They are exceptionally powerful devices, especially models with larger capacity and reach. This means that safety is paramount during the installation and in production. Safety guidelines vary from country to country and it is essential to ensure that any installation complies with local legislation. That said, robot safety systems are highly advanced.

Mostly safety is about isolating personnel from the robot's work envelope and ensuring that movement can be easily halted in an emergency. To this end robots have inbuilt dual safety chains or run chains. These are two parallel circuits that when broken will prevent the robot from moving external connections including emergency stops are also catered for. It should also be noted that almost all robots have electrically operated disc brakes on each axis. These are on whenever power is not applied to release them. Therefore in the event of a power faliure or if the emergency stop is applied the robot stops dead, within a split second, in position. It does not collapse and it should retain positional and program data.

With the latest motion supervision systems a few robots such as the Universal Robots UR5 and UR10 now have the potential to work with little or no guarding, in the right circumstances and with several caveats. For example the end of arm tooling, robot speed and risk of injury must all be completely considered. 

A great reference to industrial robot safety is available from the UK Heath and Safety Executive - Publication HSG43. 

Another great reference is the United Stated OSHA guidelines: