WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT ROBOTIC WELDING: INDUSTRIAL SAFETY STANDARDS
By Eric Esson
The revised RIA 15.06 Industrial Robot Standard that is coming is only part of the shifting U.S. industrial safety standards that shops must monitor to remain compliant, maintain best practices – and stay competitive. Is your shop at risk?
Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.” Certainly this holds true in today’s fast-evolving manufacturing world, particularly as it relates to safety regulations.
The past year was marked by a significant evolution of industrial safety standards in the United States. Facilities managers who weren’t carefully monitoring these developments may find they are no longer up to code, no longer keeping up with accepted best practices – or no longer competitive.
The best starting point for fighting off Wilson’s “decay” remains the same: conducting a thorough risk assessment. Once that is done, a wealth of knowledge can be sourced online from organizations such as OSHA, ANSI and ISO. Industry trade groups like the Robotics Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI) are also resources, as are consultants, insurance companies and companies promoting safety products.
Some of these standards and regulations are free (such as OSHA) or are available for a nominal fee (including ANSI RIA 15.06 and EN-ISO 13849-1). Great amounts of information are available by scouring safety suppliers web sites, signing up for sponsored webinars, attending industry seminars/conferences, signing up for training courses and asking industry association experts.
The bottom line to all of this information is the application of it in your shop: compliance is required.
For example, according to OSHA “machine guarding” that pertains to machines, general requirements, and general industry (29 CFR 1910.212) consistently falls in the top ten most frequently cited OSHA standards that are violated in any given year. When combined with new the regulatory changes, it is easy to understand why this perennially misunderstood topic is more confusing than ever before.
On top of that, consider how the numerous and constantly changing designs associated with industrial robotic applications will only exacerbate the problem.
Keeping up with evolving industrial safety standards has been one of the biggest regulatory shifts in recent memory. Take what occurred in 2012 in the move from EN 954-1 (the safety of machinery regulation that ceased in 2011) to EN ISO 13849-1 and EN 62061.
Support for this change began in 2007, but its opponents were able to put the change on hold in 2009 and keep it there through 2011. While approval of his harmonized standard was a hotly contested fight, the new standard is now here to stay:
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About the Author: Eric Esson is the national sales and marketing manager for Frommelt Safety Products, 4343 Chavenelle Drive, Dubuque, IA 52002-2654, 800-553-5560, Fax: 563-589-2776, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.frommeltsafety.com.