The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a new Center for Occupational Robotics Research (CORR) to provide scientific leadership to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance worker safety, health, and well-being.
Although robots have been used in workplaces for decades, the use of robots that are designed to be used alongside human workers is increasing, as is the likelihood of robot-related deaths, according to NIOSH, which used Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data to identify 61 robot-related deaths between 1992 and 2015.
“These fatalities will likely increase over time because of the increasing number of conventional industrial robots being used by companies in the United States, and from the introduction of collaborative and co-existing robots, powered exoskeletons, and autonomous vehicles into the work environment,” according to NIOSH.
CORR’s mission: To provide scientific leadership to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance worker safety, health, and wellbeing.
NIOSH says CORR will work in partnership with academic researchers, trade associations, robotics manufacturers, employers using robotics technology, labor organizations, and other federal agencies to:
- Monitor trends in injuries associated with robotics technologies
- Evaluate robotics technologies as sources of, and interventions for, workplace injuries and illnesses
- Establish risk profiles of robotic workplaces
- Identify research needs and conduct research to improve the safety, health, and wellbeing of humans working with robots and robotic technologies
- Support the development and adoption of consensus safety standards
- Develop and communicate best practices, guidance and training for safe interactions between human workers and robots/robotics technology