OSHA Calls for Review of Machine Safety Rule in Age of Robotics

May 29, 2019

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is considering an update to the rules governing the use of machines in the workplaces in light of the increasing use of robotic technology.

The agency said it is is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as the evolving technology for robotics.

The agency is seeking comments on what is called the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout or LOTO) standard. The current LOTO standard, published in 1989, requires that all sources of energy be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device. The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency said it recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices.

OSHA is requesting information about how employers have been using control circuit devices, including information about the types of circuitry and safety procedures being used; limitations of their use, to determine under what other conditions control circuit-type devices could be used safely; new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy as a result of increased interaction with robots; and whether the agency should consider changes to the LOTO standard that would address these new risks.

Comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2019. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.

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