Since 2010, industry has been using a new type of robot capable of interacting with production workers or simply sharing the same workspace with them. They are called collaborative robots, or cobots.
Cobots differ from conventional robots with respect to machine-worker interaction; they accompany workers, assist them and help them perform tasks. However, this technological change also brings with it new risks, especially in production: collision risks (since humans can come into contact with cobots), risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) (even though cobots are designed to prevent such problems, operators must learn to handle cobots properly to limit or prevent them), psychological and social risks (human stress related to cobot movements and work pace), etc.
This exploratory study was conducted to investigate these issues. The purpose of the study was, first, to make occupational health and safety recommendations regarding the use of robots in a collaborative setting and, second, to suggest ways to inform stakeholders about the issues involved in implementing cobotic installations.
This research report is intended for those who have acquired or are planning to acquire a robot for the purposes of collaborative application in production. It will also be of interest to integrators of such robots.
Readers should have some basic knowledge of design standard ISO 13849-1:2015 regarding the safety-related parts of control systems.