When thinking about robots in the workplace, many might picture a futuristic scenario, very far away from the present day. The reality is, robots are already working alongside people in various industries, and though they might not resemble those imagined by popular sci-fi movies, nobody can dismiss their presence.
There are two different types of robots you may be working with: collaborative and professional service robots. Professional service robots are usually installed in isolation from the workers, controlled by an operator from a distance. Collaborative robots, on the other hand, work alongside humans, performing repetitive tasks that require speed and precision, such as packing goods or assembly.
Robots and Safety Risks
The Robotics Industry Association (RIA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) came together in 2017 and formed a partnership that plans to look closer at the topic of robots in the workplace. Its purpose is to make sure that people have a safe working environment as the installation of robotic systems becomes increasingly popular.
According to OSHA, 38 registered robot-related accidents occurred since 1984, all involving professional service robots. So far, the administration has no reports on accidents involving collaborative robots. However, the alliance will gather information about the potential perils involved in working with these machines, both the classic robots and new technology set to be introduced in the workplace. They will develop tools and resources for employers and their workers about robotics safety.
Some experts say the new technologies will actually diminish the potential risks of working alongside robots. Latest collaborative robotic systems incorporate lightweight arms and end effectors, lowering the risk of injury under normal circumstances. If a defect does happen, many systems are programmed to cease activity. Of course, these provisions cannot guarantee a completely safe environment, which is why the alliance plans to step in and cover any blind spots.
Can You Get Workers Compensation?
The short answer is yes. The current Missouri Workers Compensation law states that employees can ask for workers compensation for “every injury or occupational disease” resulting from work. The only exception mentioned is “first aid” cases that do not need medical treatment or lost time from work.
In other words, the severity of your injury is generally the only thing the state will take into account when reviewing your workers’ compensation claim. If you are unsure whether you qualify for these benefits, consult with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney for guidance.
The Missouri state recognizes that all employers in its jurisdiction have a legal obligation of creating a safe work environment for their teams. As such, getting injured at work, in which case you need medical treatment and time off to recover warrants a workers compensation claim, regardless if a robot caused it or not.
Speak with a St. Louis work injury lawyer to help you file the claim. There is a procedure you’ll have to go through until you are awarded the benefits, and working with a lawyer can make it easier on you. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation.