What is the safety standard for robots?

A Robotic ArmThe RIA R15.06 is a standard which determines the safety requirements for industrial robots and robotic systems. It addresses requirements for the manufacture, installation, safeguarding, maintenance and repair of industrial robots. The standard is maintained by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). Robot manufacturers, users, system integrators, component suppliers, consulting firms and research groups are typically member companies.

The standard is mainly concerned with injuries caused by mechanical actuation and has a purpose similar to UL 1740. Abstraction Engineering has developed a series of conformance items which reflect the standard, and are used as the basis of a checklist and comprehensive assessment report.

Typical Scope of Work

Robotic safety requirements have been developed by:

  • Robotic Industries Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • European Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 184, subcommittee SC 2.

Robotic conformity would be reviewed according to following primary standards:

  • ANSI/RIA R15.06, Industrial Robots and Robot Systems – Safety Requirements
  • ANSI Z434, Canadian adoption of RIA R15.06
  • ISO 10218, Robots for Industrial Environments – Safety Requirements
  • UL 1740, Robots and Robotic Equipment, a standard used for listing that refers to RIA R15.06 and NFPA 70 & 79
  • OSHA: Guidelines for Robotics Safety, Directive STD-01-12-002, Instruction PUB 8-1.3 link-1
  • OSHA: Technical Manual, section 4 (safety hazards), chapter 4 (industrial robots and robot system safety) link-2

The primary standard for robot safety is RIA R15.06. Canada follows this standard with a similar requirement called ANSI Z434. RIA has begun to harmonize with international standard ISO 10218-1.

Robotic hazards and critical issues:

  1. Robotic work cells can be surrounded by either a fixed barrier (with interlocked access) or with presence sensing safeguarding devices (PSSG). Physical barriers are more foolproof and provide additional safety in case the material is ejected.
  2. Compared to barriers, PSSGs are more convenient, but they need time to work. Calculations to guarantee a full stop assume that the person is moving at 63 inches per second, equivalent to a brisk walk. Example: If the robot takes one second to come to a full stop, the PSSGs have to be set back at least 63 inches.
  3. Barriers and presence sensors need adequate coverage. Examples: Can someone reach through a hole, over the top, or underneath, and be within the path of the robot? Can material be added or removed (stocker activity) while the robot is operating at full speed?
  4. Safety devices sometimes fail. The severity of the risk determines the required category (reliability) of the safety device. The best case safety device would use two completely redundant systems that are able to monitor their own health.
  5. Determine proper administrative controls. Examples: If someone enters the work space, are they required to carry the LOTO key? If someone operates an amusement park ride or a gas pump handle, are the controls required to be hand held?
  6. Determine what kind of work requires access near a moving robot. Programming? Maintenance?

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