Reinforce safety in Human-Robots interactions

A few months ago, we discuss how computers and robot would change the environment inside industries. Especially, when we are discovering new ways to improve post-Fordianism rules to increase production paying less for it. Although automation for the process made in different industries have been transformed under new circumstances, for example, the presence of robots, which interact with human beings while they performed their functions.

Without doubts, this was one of the main questions, how these machines would transform the work environment? And how humans should modify their behavior or actions while working with them? At that moment, we never assumed the conditions of risks for employees but the idea about machines with particular characteristics giving them enough strength  to be a menace for humans was in our minds.

Sadly, in the last three months there were  dangerous incidents. First, in Saint-Jean-Industries in Viena, where a foundry electrician suffered severe physical damage after one robot snapped him up against grippers, which is a machine with pliers. Afterwards, he screamed and lost his sense. Later, this month a 22 year-old worker died in one of the Volkswagen production’s plants, where he was grabbed and pushed against a plate. These circumstances should not have taken only as part of a very funny situation of memes in social media about comparing the beginning of the rage from machines against humanity but it should attract our attention about the risks of being daily in contact with high-tech gadgets or machines.

It is not only about searching who made the mistake in both examples but as citizens, we must be aware about the way to have more information about the safety conditions of new technologies inside and outside our countries. Furthermore, if governments are trying to develop and apply new technologies for offering better conditions to their citizens. If we analyze the situation about how people should collaborate with robots in different industries. It would be necessary determine new rules to reinforce excellent working conditions for employees. Especially, when the use of robots has been increasing in the last years.

Even when the Volkswagen has been probably determined as a human error and there are many studies about the reasons behind accidents in industry like engineering’s errors, errors made by the controller, human mistakes and environmental poor conditions, among others are the main causes of accidents in factories. Furthermore, when we found different standards defined by International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ISO 10218 is the most recent set of rules and it has been adopted by The European Union without making many changes. Afterwards, other countries like Japan is also using it. There would not be possible to see this situation like something impossible to happen, however, it would be interesting persuade designing and building companies of robots to include better systems to stop the machines when human life is in danger.

It gives a bad feeling the fact that one person was in the Volkswagen’s factory without possibilities to help her co-worker. If we are so sure about the benefits from these machines to humans, I could not understand what is the obstacle to create a safety system which provide an opportunity to other person to shut the robot when this type of situation is extremely dangerous for any worker. Otherwise, there would be interesting a sensor to help the machine determine the difference between objects or humans. I know it is probably asking for excessive care about workers but if there are professionals and the technology to be applied, who would give a good reason to support a logical measure of protection in the workplace.

I believe through this type of changes we only offer better conditions for people while they are committed to their labour. The purpose is not denying that risks between human and robots’ interactions will always be part of our reality. Although it should not let us ignore how manage different approaches for diminishing them in the industries.

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