By Eric Esson
The past two years have been marked by sig- nificant changes in industrial safety stan- dards in the U.S., and metal fabricators who
aren’t carefully monitoring these developments
may find that their machinery and processes no
longer comply with the current code or aren’t
keeping up with accepted best practices.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, “machine guarding” that pertains
to machines, general requirements, and general
industry ( 29 CFR 1910.212) consistently falls in the
top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in any given year. Combine this fact with new
regulatory changes, and it is easy to understand
why this perennially misunderstood topic is more
confusing than ever before. The numerous and
constantly changing designs and specifications associated with industrial robotic applications only
worsen the problem.
Fabricators who want to educate themselves on
machine guarding and robotic operations have
many options. Organizations such as OSHA, the
American National Standards Institute (ANSI),
and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) produce a plethora of information
to help keep manufacturing companies updated.
Trade groups like the Robotic Industries Asso-
ciation (RIA) also provide a wealth of knowledge
when it comes to new regulations that should be
followed. Webinars, seminars, and industry confer-
ences also can be great resources when it comes to
keeping abreast of the latest regulatory changes.
Finally, safety supplier websites often call attention
to changes in standards, and most will provide detailed information on how their products can be
First and foremost, conducting a thorough risk
assessment is the best way to find out if the work
environment in your facility is safe and compliant.
If you are not familiar with or have not performed a
risk assessment recently, you have many approved
methodologies to choose from. Several risk assessment programs can be purchased. For example,
the revised ANSI/RIA R15.06 standard provides a
detailed structure to follow.
Thanks to these new standards, risk assessments
are now mandatory.
and U.S. Standards
Developed by RIA and adopted by ANSI in May
2013, the ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard references ISO 10218-1, 2:2011, which addresses robot
systems and integration. Although it was originally
developed in 1999, a revision process started shortly after and took longer than 10 years to complete.
The new R15.06 standard was written to be compliant with international standards already in place
in Europe and to fit in with existing standard CSA
Z434 in Canada, making life easier for manufacturers and metal fabricators. Fabricators won’t have to
worry that equipment manufactured in one country will fall out of compliance with standards and
regulations in their home country. This harmonization can save costly downtime during installations.
This new standard requires better hazard identification and provides for proper training. It also
mandates risk assessments requiring validation of
the safety solutions, along with designs that incorporate protective measures for the robot cell and
New robotic standard to
improve safety and productivity
Revised RIA R15.06 standard addresses control
advancements and the need for risk assessments
In the past, engineers had to maximize the space in robotic cells to design around all possible robotic movements as a
safety precaution. Today new control technologies allow engineers to design cells around prescribed robotic patterns,
greatly reducing the footprint typically needed for such cells. This will be particularly evident with robotic cells that
process large parts.
The new robotic safety standard won’t minimize the basic need for safety barriers around welding cells, but it
does allow for the latest control technology, which should
improve an operator’s ability to interact with robots