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handshake - robot and human

Robots are machines or automated technologies that are capable of performing a series of actions to do everything from drive cars to perform surgery. Robots have existed in the workplace for years, but their presence on jobsites is increasing, as are their capabilities. Today’s robots are designed to work alongside, move amongst, and be worn by human workers.

NIOSH’s Role in Robotics

Given NIOSH’s mission to develop new knowledge, the Institute is uniquely positioned to evaluate potential benefits and risks of robots in the workplace, conduct workplace interventions to prevent robot-related worker injuries, and develop guidance for safe interactions between humans and robots. To do this, NIOSH created the Center for Occupational Robotics Research (CORR) in September 2017.

The CORR is encompassed within NIOSH-wide efforts to examine the Future of Work (FOW) and broaden the approach to worker safety, health and well-being. Specifically, CORR addresses some of the technological innovations, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, that are changing the nature of work.

A new commentary by NIOSH on industrial exoskeletons and the need for intervention effectiveness research has been published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.external icon

The National Science Foundation, along with partners including NIOSH, is seeking to fund research on workplace use of robotics. Proposals for the National Robotics Initiative 2.0external icon are due February 26, 2020.

A new publication, Proceedings of the 2018 Ergo-X Symposium: Exoskeletons in the Workplace — Assessing Safety, Usability, and Productivity, includes speakers’ presentations and summaries of the question and answer/discussion periods.

CORR Mission: Provide scientific leadership to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance worker safety, health, and wellbeing.

Page last reviewed: September 10, 2019