New Standard takes effect Jan 1st. / RIA R15.06 Feature

Risk Assessment Key to Robotic Machine Guarding Compliance

The development and implementation of industrial machine guarding systems has always been an exercise in assessing risk. However, that assessment process is about to get much more important, particularly as it relates to automated and robotic processes.

Thanks to the passage of the Robotic Industry Association (RIA) R15.06 standard in 2013, risk assessments will be required as of January 1, 2015. Many professionals responsible for plant safety have been conducting risk assessments to increase safety as a matter of practice. These new regulations mandate risk assessments be conducted.

Understanding and assessing these risks--and ensuring compliance--is not a simple task. In fact, the OSHA machine guarding standard which includes robotic welding (29 CFR 1910.212) consistently falls in the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in any given year. Considering the myraid of regulatory changes that are just now taking effect, there is a real potential for confusion and uncertainty.

The first step for facility/ safety professionals is to identify and understand all codes and regulations that are applicable to their facility and operation. Next, they should examine the prevailing machine guarding choices for those applications in order to validate their safety system and its components. Although many guarding methods and products are available, not all can be applied universally.

Every machine guarding application has its own set of unique challenges and associated risk. The choices a facility manager makes for one application might not be the same--or appropriate-- for the next. In most cases, safety-conscious managers would not guard an industrial robot the same way they would guard other equipment, because the risk associated with each differs greatly. Risk may even vary between similar operations, depending upon employee exposure and other factors.

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