Incident summary: An experienced machine operator who’d become complacent about safety disregarded his training and entered a work envelope that surrounded a robot. The man won’t get the chance to ignore safety rules again.
The damage: To keep machine operators safe, an employer installed a safety rail around a robotic piece of equipment. However, there were gaps in the rail that operators could squeeze through to enter the work envelope that surrounded the robotic device.
For that reason, staffers were trained to stay out of the work envelope whenever the robotic device was operational. Unfortunately, one equipment operator decided to slip through one of the gaps in the safety rail so he could use an air gun to clean debris from around the unit.
While the man was using the air gun, the robot began to cycle behind him. The robot struck the worker and pinned him against a pole.
About 15 minutes later, a coworker found the man squeezed against the pole. He notified his supervisor, who disengaged the robot, then administered CPR to the victim. The worker was taken to a hospital, but he died five days later from his severe crushing injuries.
Findings: Officials discovered that the victim had frequently entered the work envelope despite his knowledge of the risks. Even though he’d been disciplined several times for the infraction, he continued to thumb his nose at safety procedures.
Supervisors who saw the man disregarding safety instructions should’ve disciplined him more severely. They also should’ve ensured that he received refresher safety training every time he was observed flouting safety requirements.
(From the Dec. 7, 2020, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To sign up for a no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)