Saf Health Work.  2021 Dec;12(4):496-504. 10.1016/

Critical Hazard Factors in the Risk Assessments of Industrial Robots: Causal Analysis and Case Studies

  • 1Department of Safety Engineering, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, 232, Gongneung-ro, Nowon-gu, Seoul, 01811, Republic of Korea
  • 2School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, Kyungil University, 50, Gamasil-Gil, Hayang-Eup, Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongbuk, 38428, Republic of Korea


With the increasing demand for industrial robots and the “noncontact” trend, it is an appropriate point in time to examine whether risk assessments conducted for robot operations are performed effectively to identify and eliminate the risks of injury or harm to operators. This study discusses why robot accidents resulting in harm to operators occur repetitively despite implementing control measures and proposes corrective actions for risk assessments.
This study collected 369 operator-injured robot accidents in Korea over the last decade and reconstructed them into the mechanism of injury, work being undertaken, and bodily location of the injury. Then, through the techniques of Systematic Cause Analysis Technique (SCAT) and Root Cause Analysis (RCA), this study analyzed the root and direct causes of robot accidents that had occurred. Causes identified included physical hazards and complex combinations of hazards, such as psychological, organizational, and systematic errors. The requirements of risk assessments regarding robot operations were examined, and three case studies of robot-involved tasks were investigated. The three assessments presented were: camera module processing, electrical discharge machining, and a panel-flipping robot installation.
After conducting RCA and comparing the three assessments, it was found that two-thirds of injury-occurring from robot accidents, causative factors included psychological and personal traits of robot operators. However, there were no evaluations of the identifications of personal aspects in the three assessment cases.
Therefore, it was concluded that personal factors of operators, which had been overlooked in risk assessments so far, need to be included in future risk assessments on robot operations.


Human factor; Human-robot collaboration; Psychology; Risk assessment; Root cause analysis
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