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Keeping workers safe when using robots

When used properly, robots can make it easier and safer for New Jersey workers to complete tasks. However, the use of robots can also introduce safety hazards. This may be especially true when it comes time to clean, inspect or repair the machines themselves. The risk for workplace injuries related to the use of robots exists for workers in most sectors including retail. In some countries, robots are used to serve customers.

A partnership between OSHA, NIOSH and the Robotic Industries Association aims to help improve safety rules related to this technology. Between 1992 and 2015, there were 61 deaths linked to the use of robotic tools in the workplace. As the use of robots increases, the lack of safety regulations or government policy could lead to more problems. However, employers should note that they could still run afoul of OSHA rules even without specific regulations.

This is because employees are still expected to receive adequate training as it relates to working on machines. Furthermore, lockout/tagout require that power sources be turned off and that a lock be placed on machines while being repaired or inspected. To specifically deal with robot technology, the use of a programmable logic controller may be allowed by OSHA. This is thought to have similar benefits to locking and tagging machines.

Individuals who are hurt at work may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits while recovering. This may make it possible to pay medical bills and recoup a portion of their lost wages. These benefits may be available regardless of why the accident happened. An experienced lawyer can often assist with the preparation and submission of the required claim documentation.

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