Robot systems have many potential uses and applications in a wide variety of environments. However, safety must always be a primary consideration when planning their use. The core function of any robot safety system is to ensure that there is no possibility of inadvertent contact between a robot and an operator or the environment. It is also important to remember that the type and degree of protection is not only dependent on the manipulator but also on the process and the end effector, other ancillary systems such as fixtures or conveyors must also be taken into consideration.
The legal aspects of safety are important and are governed by several international standards that are usually embodied into national laws, in the UK the European Machinery Directive is the overarching legal framework. The underlying International Standard for Robot Safety is ISO10218 but there are also a number of associated standards that should be considered.
As with any safety requirements it is important to seek professional advice where there is any doubt either from specialist companies or from the Health and Safety Executive.