Robotic Safety

Robotics are becoming increasingly prevalent in recent years and have been integrated into industry, medical practices, and now academia. On the UT campus there is an upsurge of robotic usage  and therefore a need for safety practices to be implemented to compliment this growth. The objective of this program is to provide users of robotic systems with guidance to enhance the safety of personnel associated with industrial robot systems. This can include but is not limited to robots, robot end-effectors, and ancillary equipment. However, the information below is intended for users of industrial robots and/or robot systems that comply with:

  • ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 Part 1, a responsibility of the robot manufacturer; and
  • ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 Part 2, a responsibility of the integrator.

This guidance outlines the user responsibilities and provides guidance to the user of robot systems to enable the safe use of the robot system(s) in their facilities. Compliance with this guidance is only achievable when using robot and robot systems that are compliant with ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012.


The following training topics should be addressed. IF the training is delivered by a trainer, that person should be qualified and authorized according to the user’s local requirements. Training may be computer-based, in which case the training systems should have been pre-qualified by an authorized individual. Training content must include, but not limited to:

General Safety

  1. Industry standards and instructions designed for the protection of personnel.
  2. Robot vendor safety recommendations.
  3. Procedures that contain steps related to safety actions.
  4. Lockout and tagout procedures.
  5. Emergency procedures.
  6. General workplace safety procedures.
  7. Specific training program content based on assigned tasks.

Risk Reduction Measures

  1. Types of protection measures and devices.
  2. Capabilities and options of protection measures and devices.
  3. Description of devices selected for a specific application.
  4. Function of selected devices.
  5. Functional test of each device.
  6. Limitations of each device.

Teach-function Operators

  1. Slow speed control.
  2. Safeguards which are bypassed during teach-function.
  3. Pendant operation.
  4. Single point of control.
  5. Process safety/control.
  6. Response to abnormal or unexpected events.
  7. Hazards during teach-function.
    • Pinch point locations.
    • Observation points.
    • Robot notion at slow versus program speed.
    • Robot performance in teach-function.
    • Singularity.
    • Slow speed playback.
  8. Auxiliary equipment


  1. Tasks associated with the robot application, including those with adjacent equipment and machinery.
  2. Hazards related to each task.
  3. Response to abnormal or unexpected events.
  4. Recovery operation.
  5. Auxiliary equipment.

Maintenance Personnel

  1. Applicable tasks for both Operators and Teach-function Operators.
  2. Hazards involving:
    • Preventative maintenance and calibrations.
    • Troubleshooting.
    • Repairs.
    • Operational checks.
    • Singularity.
    • Faults and failures involving safety devices and communications systems.
    • Process variables.
    • Process materials.
  3. Emergency operations.
  4. Risks associated with tasks on robot system, both energized and de-energized, similar to the lockout tagout procedures included in General Safety.
  5. Hazards involving auxiliary equipment.
Standard Operating Procedure

The criteria listed below should be included in the standard operating procedure (SOP) to integrate safety into the process.

  1. Review the risk assessment created at the design stage. This document should detail the tasks to be performed and the hazards that were mitigated. Ensure the risk assessment with the approved risk reduction measures are up to date and properly documented.
    • Assess the tasks and hazards from the workers perspective; and
    • Update the risk assessment if necessary.
  2. Create an SOP based on the documented task-based risk assessment.
  3. Determine what information regarding engineering controls, awareness devices, and personal protective equipment is required to achieve a safe and acceptable risk reduction.
    • Create steps in the procedure that relate to the combination and sequence of how to perform the tasks safely.
    • When multiple control devices are used, they can create different outcomes when executed in a difference sequence. The SOP must discuss all variations of multiple element control systems and explain the correct sequence of combinations for the tasks.
  4. Obtain any existing standardized work or manufacturer’s procedures for each device identified in in the task-based risk assessment. The SOP should reference any specific additional procedures provide by the manufacturer or integrator as required for clarity for safe operation.
  5. Divide the SOP into individual procedures not to exceed nine steps. If the SOP is larger than nine steps, break up into smaller SOPs that do not exceed nine steps.
    • Define the purpose at the beginning of the procedure; and
    • Write the SOPs from the perspective of the worker/operator as they perform the described tasks.
    • Determine if any of the procedural steps need verification or sign-off, by whom, and when.
    • Review and adjust several times with technical support personnel, operators, and skilled trades who will perform the work.
  6. Determine the location and communication method for workers to access the SOP at the work site.
  7. Determine the review frequency for the SOPs and the personnel involved.
Task-Based Risk Assessment

Safety must be a conscious effort on the part of both integrators and users associated with automation and industrial robot systems. Personnel skills, training, attitude, and university safety culture are extremely important factors in any safety program being successful. Each industrial robot system application is unique and therefore presents unique hazards. These hazards and their associated risks must be assessed and reduced to an acceptable level. A number of methodologies are available to complete a risk assessment. Any risk assessment methodology that identifies tasks and prescribes risk reductions equivalent to or more stringent than the requirements in this guidance is acceptable.

Integrators include any entity that designs, provides, manufactures or assembles robot systems or integrated manufacturing systems and is in charge of the safety strategy, including the protective measures, control interfaces and interconnections of the control system. The integrator is required to identify the tasks that are to be carried out by operators of the robot system and its associated equipment. This requirement can be achieved by performing a risk assessment on each unique industrial robot system to identify task/hazard pairs and their associated risk levels, and to determine the required risk reduction measures of the identified risks. The integrator shall include any recommended complementary protective measures in addition to completing the risk assessments.

The user should provide the integrator with information on where the industrial robot system will be used, its environment, nearby equipment or processes that could affect the safety associated with the use of the robot system/cell, and the skills, competence, and training of personnel who will perform specific tasks. Once the robot system is validated and the risk assessment documentation is complete, the user shall maintain the risk assessment documentation for future reference, and update the risk assessment when necessary.