An increase in automation has been demonstrated to improve productivity in manufacturing, although there are fears that the human workforce will ultimately be replaced by robots. Manufacturers disagree, however, stating they value both the efficiency offered by machines and the intuition provided by humans. When used in tandem, these deliver optimum plant productivity.

Automation does have repercussions from a health and safety perspective, as manufacturers need to ensure that robots and humans can work efficiently and safely in the same workspace. Regulations and procedures need to be examined and redefined to set out clear expectations and ultimately to prevent accident or injury. As language specialists, Albion Languages offer consultation services to ensure that our manufacturing clients’ health and safety policies are translated and localised to safeguard compliance with country-specific rules and regulations.

Benefits of human and robot collaboration

Collaborative robots – or cobots – are explicitly designed to work in cooperation with humans in a defined workspace. There are a number of reasons why cobots are becoming more popular in factories, they are affordable, highly adaptable and easy to install. Cobots can be used to support human workers, performing the heavy lifting and repetitive jobs that can cause human strain and injury. This provides the human workforce with more time – and energy – to complete more creative and intricate tasks.

What are the safety concerns with human and robot collaboration?

A prime consideration for manufacturers hoping to benefit from human/machine interaction is the safety of the workforce. Cobots have certain in-built features that prevent them from injuring humans when in operation. Many cobots are also now routinely designed to have rounded and soft surfaces to reduce the risk of injury if a human gets too close to the machine. There are often also proximity sensors to detect and alert the machines to instantly stop if a human gets too near. These safety features are vital in preventing injury, although there are other factors that manufacturers have to consider.

The need for Health and Safety documentation

Clear, concise health and safety documents can be a critical element affecting a company’s employer liability and insurance. The translation of these documents must be handled by experienced linguists who fully understand the specifics involved.

With companies aiming to take their duty of care responsibilities seriously, risk assessment must be carried out to determine the potential risks to employees, the environment and any third parties when conducting potentially hazardous operations. The operation of cobots may require specialist procedures, equipment and/or training, all of which must be documented and made available to the workforce in a language that is suitable and easily understood.

Health and safety training for a multilingual workforce is likely to require the translation of handbooks and presentation slides, written examination papers, while videos used during training may also require dubbing or subtitling. Ensuring you consult with a language specialist like Albion Languages can help to ensure that your business is doing all it can to prevent hazards and remain fully compliant with health and safety regulations.