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The dangers of robots may lead to fatally injured workers

More and more industrial facilities in Colorado and elsewhere are adding robotic machines to their manufacturing processes. Considering that some employers do not comply with safety regulations related to the safeguarding of machines that have been in use for decades, employees may rightfully be concerned about their safety around the robots that pose even more hazards. Allowing energized robots to work side by side with human employees have already led to severely, and even fatally, injured workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revealed the outcome of an investigation into the June death of a woman at an industrial plant in another state. Approximately 700 people are employed at the factory, which stamps parts for Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Investigators identified no less than 23 safety violations, and the agency issued citations to the company and two temporary staffing agencies.

The most serious violations involved the company's lack of safety protocols during cleaning and maintenance of equipment. An OSHA spokesperson said the production targets of Hyundai and Kia are extremely high, and investigators alleged that the manufacturing company cuts corners to limit costs. Furthermore, some employees work six- and even seven-day workweeks to meet the targets. This woman had to pay with her life because it would cost the company money to de-energize the robot before letting her into its station to clear a fault on its sensor.

Injured workers in Colorado are entitled to pursue assistance with medical expenses through the state's workers' compensation insurance program. The family members of this 20-year-old woman who lost her life only 14 days before her planned wedding may also seek support. They may file death benefit claims through the workers' compensation insurance system of their state. Death benefits typically cover the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements along with a percentage of lost income.

Source: gazette.com, "Firm cited for hazards after robotic machine kills woman", Jeff Martin, Dec. 14, 2016

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