When Automation Makes the Workplace More Dangerous Instead of Safer
Ever since the beginning of the Industrial revolution, it has been obvious that the machines designed to make workers’ lives easier could actually make their lives more difficult and expose them to unforeseen dangers. Fiction writers from Charles Dickens to Philip K. Dick have imagined the fear and despair that can happen and, in fact, have already happened when earning a living requires interacting with machines that have no human emotions or morals and limited ability to respond to cues from humans. Far from just being a topic for concept albums or for late night conversations on the patio with your housemates, the hazards of artificial intelligence in the workplace are real. While robotic machines in industrial settings prevent many more injuries they cause, the injuries caused when these machines malfunction can be severe. If automation played a role in your workplace injury, contact a South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer.
Robotic Accidents and How to Prevent Them
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) collects data on workplace accidents involving robotics. It divides the accidents into the following categories:
- Collision accidents: – In these types of accidents, a robotic arm or other machine part guided by artificial intelligence crashes into a person or occupied vehicle, causing injuries. Sometimes these accidents are caused by malfunctions of the sensors that would have stopped the robotically controlled part to stop moving sooner if they had been working properly.
- Trapped by a robotic arm – A robotic arm or similar part traps a worker’s arm or leg, or sometimes the worker’s entire body, and causes injury by crushing it. This category also includes accidents where a mechanically controlled part pushes a worker toward a peripheral piece of equipment.
- Failure of mechanical parts – These accidents result not from a failure of the robotic controls of mechanical parts but of the mechanical parts being controlled by robotics. Examples of these types of accidents include the failure of gripper mechanisms or when parts fall off of power tools.
- Other accidents – OSHA groups all other robotics accidents that do not fit into the above categories into the “other” category. Many of these accidents involve exposure to dangerous levels of electricity or pressurized fluids.
The best protection against these kinds of accidents is machine guarding. Some employers skimp on machine guarding because they think that it reduces the amount of work that can be done in the workspace because the guards add to the amount of space taken up by each machine. Every year, OSHA imposes fines on many businesses that do not have proper machine guarding. If you get injured in an industrial accident, you have the right to have your treatment paid for by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether your workplace was in compliance with OSHA regulations at the time of the accident.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If a robot went rogue at your workplace and caused your injuries, a Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer can help you recover compensation. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for help today.