Today, robot sales are at a record high plus the fact that new types of robots with increased sophistication are being developed and used in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) https://www.cdc.gov/niosh within CDC, has established the virtual “Center for Occupational Robotics Research” to address the safety and health implications for worker safety and health especially when using robotics.
New robotics applications are fundamentally different from earlier applications where robots were designed to operate in isolation from workers. New classes of robots are designed to work alongside, move among, and even be worn by human workers.
Emerging robotic technologies include:
- Collaborative robots designed to work alongside human workers to coordinate tasks
- Mobile robots that move alongside and in the same space as human workers
- Wearable robotics designed to decrease physical loads on human workers such as powered exoskeletons
- Remotely controlled and autonomous ground and aerial vehicles such as rescue vehicles and drones
Also, current injury surveillance systems are not able to easily identify robot-related injuries due to a lack of standard classification code. The Center supports the development and adoption of consensus safety standards.
Specifically, the Center will:
- Monitor trends in injuries associated with robotics technologies
- Evaluate robotics technologies in terms of workplace injuries and illnesses
- Establish the risk for using robotics in the workplace
- Identify research needs and then conduct research to improve the well-being for humans working with robots and robotic technologies
- Develop and communicate best practices, guidance, and training for workers working with robotics