Safety Alert: Worker fatally injured by a robot palletiser

The WA Government’s Department of Commerce has released a safety alert, following a fatal injury involving the operation of a robot palletiser  at a fertiliser factory.  The deceased machine operator,  inadvertently activated a light sensor, which caused the arm to move and trap him against the steel rollers of the pickup station. An additional gate had been installed in the surrounding fence after the robot had been commissioned, but there was no form of guarding and there was a gap in the fence, allowing access to the machinery without the activation of any safety devices.

Industrial robots pose numerous risks of injury and possible death, including unpredictable action patterns, high speed operations, ineffective guarding, ability to move in free space and ability to be reprogrammed or reconfigured.

The Department of Commerce requires:

– All safety devices including perimeter fencing, presence-sensing devices and interlocks to  be installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
– Any modifications to robot guarding to be completed by competent persons, following a risk assessment of the changes being considered.
– Operators to be trained and supervised to ensure they operate robots in accordance with safety procedures.

The implementation of an effective safety system, protects operators, maintenance staff and others who could be exposed to the risks associated with industrial robot operation. Contact Safebound about safe workplace systems on (08) 6102 5400.

Retrieved from: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/PDF/Safety_alerts/2013/06_2013_robot_palletiser.pdf

Dated: 17/07/2013