Collaborative Robot Risk Assessments
"Often sold as 'safe out of the box', this is true, until the tooling or gripper is attached to the end."
"Different parts of the body can receive different forces and pressures and it is the scope of the risk assessment to define these points."
Are cobots safe?
Although there is lots of safety information available regarding collaborative robots, it is often overlooked due to the way cobots have been marketed.
Often sold as 'safe out of the box', this is true, until the tooling or gripper is attached to the end. This then changes the whole safety of the cobot and the safety of the application then needs to be risk assessed.
Installing a cobot safely requires a detailed risk assessment. Consideration should be given to the risks that may occur during the cobots cycle, its tooling, its movements and the human interaction. The amount of force and pressure that can be exerted in a collision could result in injury. Different parts of the body can receive different forces and pressures and it is the scope of the risk assessment to define these points.
As cobots are lightweight and portable they have a variety of uses within the same work environment. For each separate task and location, a risk assessment should be completed.
Cobot risk assessment
When it comes to cobot risk assessments, the risk assessment process should follow the guidance found in the international safety standards and collaborative robot safety standards;
The findings of the risk assessment will determine the corrective measures that can be applied. The risk assessment should be reviewed several times during the design and build of the cobot application.
There is a legal requirement for anyone who integrates a cobot (whether it be a system integrator or an end user) to conduct a risk assessment as part of the design, the build or the integration of a cobot into a machine. This includes both new and existing machinery.
The risk assessment is one of the key documents used to assist with the overall UKCA / CE marking process. There is also a requirement for the end user to meet the requirements of PUWER to ensure that the cobot application is safe and compliant.
Why are risk assessments important?
Cobots are designed to work alongside humans, so we need to be aware of its movements, the end tooling and what the process involves.
As an employer you are required by law to protect your employees from harm.
When we conduct the risk assessment on your collaborative robot application we:
Identify what could cause injury
Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed
Offer solutions to control or reduce the identified risk
When should a risk assessment be carried out?
Simply, the earlier the better!
There have been cobots implemented to work collaboratively but ended up in guarded cells in the same manor as a traditional industrial robot due to the lack of understanding of collaborative applications. These issues should have been highlighted in the design risk assessment stage.
Risk assessments are also required when:
Purchasing new equipment or machinery with a cobot as part of the process
Modifying existing machinery to allow for a cobot to be integrated.
The cobot is relocated to a new location.
The cobot is given a new task or operation.
How we can help you
Our cobot risk assessment process includes:
Assessing your collaborative robot application in accordance with the applicable standards
Identifying hazards and collision points
Identifying whether force and pressure testing is required
Estimating the level of risk associated with the hazards
Recommending how to reduce the risks to a sufficient level
Guidance on how to become PUWER compliant
Ongoing advice and support