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Robotic equipment creates workplace safety challenges

As robots become more common in manufacturing environments in New Jersey, the likelihood of worker injuries could rise. Although manufacturers make extensive efforts to design safe systems, the risk of injury persists. The co-president of a robot manufacturing company said that accidents tend to happen when a robot is being programmed for new tasks or if it breaks down and troubleshooting and repairs need to be performed.

Safety experts agree that repairs create the most dangerous conditions for workers. To make them, technicians must enter the work area of the robot, and they often need to power up a malfunctioning machine. Because robots can exert great force, they can inflict injuries or even kill workers when they act unpredictably.

All personnel in contact with robotic equipment need to receive thorough training in the risks and how to proceed with extra caution during repairs. The specialized role of robot repair technicians means that they typically work outside the normal production workflow. Often, third-party companies employ these skilled workers who then become injured within a client’s work environment. This situation could create liability for multiple parties.

A person injured on the job typically files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Someone hurt in a complex situation that might include working off site and not being informed of the safety risks of robotics might choose to discuss the case with an attorney. In addition to helping the person file an insurance claim, an attorney could investigate the potential of bringing a separate products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer if it can be established that the injury was due to a defect that the manufacturer knew or should have known about.