Will workers' compensation cover injuries caused by robotics?

The rapid advances in technology have forced many employees in various California industries to become used to having robotic co-workers share their workspaces. Along with new technology typically comes new safety risks, and many workers' compensation claims have been filed after workers were injured by robots. While safety projects focus mainly on developing safer interactions between humans and robots, Amazon recently reported that it created a personal protective device to the robots in its facilities from causing injuries to the human workers.

Amazon has been the subject of multiple investigations by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health after employees suffered work-related injuries, some of which involved robots. To mitigate such risks, Amazon Robotics has developed a wearable device that reminds one of a belt with suspenders, called the Robotic Tech Vest. The device will warn robotic systems of the presence of humans.

An Amazon Robotics spokesperson explained that the existing safety systems include training materials, process controls, physical barriers to prevent unauthorized entry into areas where robotic systems are present, and process controls. Mobile robotics typically have their routes and grids programmed, threatening those who might be in its path. By wearing the Robotic Tech Vest, workers will be safe because as soon as the robot detects human presence, it will automatically adjust its travel plan and steer away onto an updated route.

While these devices might limit the robotic-related injuries in Amazon facilities, thousands of others will risk their safety every day that they share their workspaces with robots. Fortunately, victims of such injuries might be eligible for financial assistance to help them cope with medical bills and lost wages. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can simplify the benefits claims process that could prove to be challenging.

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