A simple safety request

  • In light of today's sad news of a gentleman in South Korea in the industrial robotics sector suffering fatal injuries, my sincerest condolences are offered to the gentleman's family and friends.

    As a mark of respect, this thread is not to discuss any details, speculations or comments about the incident so please refrain from doing this but I feel as a global community we must push the importance of safety at work and not get complacent.


    a. Read and understand all safety related documentation provided by the supplier of any robot system or automated cell.

    b. Lock out and Tag Out.

    c. Isolate and discharge sources of stored energy.

    d. Identify potential hazards of any duty you are asked to perform and challenge anything you consider a risk to you or your colleagues.

    e. If you cannot perform a duty without the necessary safety measures, tools and equipment in place, then challenge it.

    f. If at any point you are unsure, Ask Before Action.

    There are many other stipulations that can be made, but really there is no compromise when it comes to safety - if there is a potential hazard, then it must be de-risked.

    Stay safe people.

    As a community, let's do our part in ensuring safe practices are continually highlighted, maintained and promoted.

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  • In light of today's sad news of a gentleman in South Korea in the industrial robotics sector suffering fatal injuries, my sincerest condolences are offered to the gentleman's family and friends.

    Ah, hell. That makes three in the past 20 years. And I just wrote a post referring to "two in the past 20" this morning. There's some unpleasant irony.

    I haven't seen the news on this. Do we know any details? Obviously we won't know much, if anything, beyond media speculation until after the official incident report is completed and released.

    ...damn. After googling the incident, apparently South Korea had another robot fatality last year, and a serious injury incident this past March. WTF?

    I'm going to be blunt: all the previous robot-injury incidents I'm familiar with were the result of human error. Either poorly designed/implemented safeties, or safeties being circumvented.

    Implementing robots safely is not hard. It does, however, require obsessive attention to the relevant safety rules, and taking them all seriously.

    I often liken robot safety to firearm safety. Just like a firearm is "always loaded" (even if you just unloaded it), a robot is always live unless you have it in T1 with the pendant in your hand, or have your padlock on the power supply. Just like you must always be aware of where your firearm is pointed regardless of whether it's loaded, safety engaged, or there's no one around, you must always be aware of your surroundings, what the robot is doing, where anyone else is.

    And just like firearm safety has multiple redundant layers (never point in an unsafe direction, never load until needed, mechanical safety always engaged until ready to shoot), robot/automation safety also comes in multiple redundant layers. Because eventually, inevitably, one of those layers will fail. Either through mechanical failure, or your attention might lapse at a critical moment, or some other person might have modified/bypassed something and you don't know.

    And when that single-layer failure happens, the only thing that will prevent an incident is if at least one of the other layers is still there to catch you. Incidents only occur when multiple safety layers fail.

    Unfortunately, if Layer A has been bypassed by someone else without your knowledge, and you then get distracted at just the wrong moment, you can still die. One of the most critical facts to keep in mind is that any incident of this kind almost invariably is the result of multiple failures by multiple people. Which is why it's so critical to be obsessive about the safety "layers" you have any control over (paying attention, lockout/tagout,etc), because you can never know if what someone else may have done. One (non-robot) fatality I know of was caused by a bypassed safety that had been bypassed for years without anyone's knowledge, and never caused an issue (and hence, was never noticed)... until the day someone got in the way of the moving machine, hit the kickplate that should have E-stopped it... and it just kept moving.

  • Having worked in Korea, and seen first hand now lax safety was, i am not surprised. Things that i saw there every day in a nuclear power plant, would not be tolerated here even in a very different type of business (a coffee shop or newspaper stand).

    Sadly someone lost life. Condolences to the family. I hope investigation uncovers if his demise was due to malfunction or own mistake rather than someone else's or this can happen over and over again.

    Let that be a reminder to everyone that everything we do could lead to an accident. This includes improper commissioning, lax safety, incorrect use of safety devices, bypassing things to get there faster, repair details are often neglected since "it was working before" etc.

    Robots can move fast and when there is a malfunction, they can move unexpectedly. I have seen all axes move erratically and failing to stop even after enabling switch was released (EStop did stop it). Or one of scariest was A1 moving a lot (about 90deg) and very fast while controller was in T1.

    1) read pinned topic: READ FIRST...

    2) if you have an issue with robot, post question in the correct forum section... do NOT contact me directly

    3) read 1 and 2

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