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Ergonomics and Control Reliability for Safety during Automated Machine Maintenance - Programs in the United States and France.

Etherton JR
Trends in Ergonomics/Human Factors III 1986:1101-1108
Research programs in the United States and France concerned with safety during automated machine maintenance were examined based on experience in a 1 year cooperative study. Brief descriptions were provided of the overall responsibilities of the United States agency, NIOSH, and the French agency, the Institut National de Recherche et de Securite (INRS). A cooperative project was described in which a NIOSH engineer was assigned to the INRS research center at Nancy during 1984 to 1985. The project centered on the safety of personnel who perform corrective maintenance in robot work zones and the use of safety devices by these personnel. A special analysis tool developed in the United States, the Structured Analysis and Design Technique (SADT), was used to evaluate needs for robot work zone protection. The technique subdivided the actions necessary for a primary design goal (safe intervention in a robot work zone) into as many component parts as was practical. Two robotized French automobile assembly lines were observed to determine the safety content of corrective maintenance interventions. The first assembly line used fixed barrier enclosures with access through electrically interlocked gates. On the second assembly line, maintenance personnel were permitted to remain inside a fixed fence surrounding the line of eight robots, so that safety depended on proper actions of the workers and reliable operation of the robots. Twenty interventions in 12 hours and 22 in 16 hours were observed for the first and second lines, respectively. Most stoppages involved quick exposures lasting about 1 minute. The author concludes from the experience in the collaborative project that computerized maintenance records should be reviewed during safety analysis of robot workstations, that failure diagnosis devices should be used in order to reduce time needed to "debug" a robot failure with power on, and that the assumptions that personnel can work with a robot while it is under power must be given careful consideration.
Humans; Industrial-safety; Safety-engineering; Automotive-industry; Safety-research; Industrial-design; Equipment-reliability;
Publication Date
Karwowski W;
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Trends in Ergonomics/Human Factors III
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division