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Is there a governing authority such as OSHA that specifies the need to have hard stops for the industrial robots used in a manufacturing facility?
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The governing authority is the OSHA General Duty Clause, this clause and decisions made by courts in respect to it indicate that where OSHA has no specific requirements they can, and must look to industry consensus standards. ANSI standards are Industry consensus standards particularly when the are harmonized to international standards. In short you can be cited for violating an industry consensus standard. A review of the standard would show that there are options with respect to stop points of Robots hard stops are one (and the least expensive) but there are others.
OSHA uses the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the Act) to cite manufacturers who do not follow widely accepted industry standards. In order to prove a General Duty Clause violation, OSHA must establish the following elements: 1. A condition or activity in the workplace created a hazard, 2. The employer or its industry recognized the hazard, 3. The hazard was likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and 4. A feasible means existed to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard. ANSI/RIA has an alliance with OSHA to strengthen the understanding and efforts of each. OSHA requires adherence to the RIA R15.06-2012 Standard that addresses hard stops, Safety-rated soft axis and space limiting...
As noted in the previous responses, OSHA is the governing authority for workplace safety. They do not specify a requirement that hard stops be provided. Please refer to clause 5.12.1 of Part 1 of R15.06. It begins by specifying "A means for installing adjustable mechanical stops shall be provided to limit the motion of the axis with the greatest displacement motion (primary axis) of the robot" and ends with the note "Use of the optional feature of safety-rated soft axis and space limiting (see 5.12.3) also can also satisfy this requirement." Clause 5.4.3 of Part 2 goes on to provide "Limiting the motion of the robot system may be accomplished by means integral to the robot (e.g. safety-rated soft axis and space limiting or hard stops provided by the manufacturer), by installing external limiting devices, or by a combination of both."