As technology continues to advance, workplaces will find ways to use automation to enhance their various processes. The reasons for this can be myriad: to remove human workers from dangerous or toxic environments, to lessen the chance of injury, or, simply, to improve the company’s bottom line. Workers who remain on the job, however, might have to worry about new and frightening types of occupational accidents.
OSHA has concluded that there are four primary types of workplace accidents that can involve robotics or automation.
- Impact or collision accidents: The workplace might soon be crowded with robotic arms, autonomous conveyor belts and wire-driven delivery systems. Unfortunately, the likelihood of being struck by a piece of track machinery has greatly increased.
- Crushing and trapping accidents: As an added layer of danger to an impact accident, workers might become trapped by between a robotic arm and another piece of equipment.
- Mechanical part accidents: If the autonomous equipment breaks down or malfunctions it could cause an accident. A gripper mechanism could fail, dropping materials and injuring workers.
- Other accidents: There might be common accidents not related to the otherwise specified categories. Shock injuries, burn injuries, the release of pressurized fluids – these malfunctions can cause critical injuries.
Workers in numerous industries could face unknown danger. Manufacturing plants, warehouses, farming and construction industries already rely on various levels of automation to ensure productivity and efficiency. If your work injury was caused by robotic or other automated elements of your work environment, you might be entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits.