Machine Safety: Robotic Industries Association updates safety requirements for robots

Robotic Industries Association (RIA) has announced its updated ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard. This first update since 1999 (now harmonized with the international standard ISO 10218:2011) is a major step forward for users and manufacturers of robotics in the U.S.


Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announced its updated ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard for robotic safety. This is the first update since 1999 and it is now harmonized with the international standard ISO 10218:2011.

“Approved  March 28, 2013.  A revision of ANSI R15.06-1999, this standard provides guidelines for the manufacture and integration of Industrial Robots and Robot Systems with emphasis on their safe use, the importance of risk assessment and establishing personnel safety. This standard is a national adoption of the International Standards ISO 10218-1 and ISO 10218-2 for Industrial Robots and Robot Systems, and offers a global safety standard for the manufacture and integration of such systems.”

Wow, this is a major step forward for both robot manufacturers and users of robots in factory applications here in the US. It looks like this advancement means a departure from the previous seven risk reduction categories of; R1, R2A, R2B, R2C, R3A, R3B & R4 to the five Performance Level (PL) designations of PLa through PLe. Category levels (B, 1 --- 4) will be re-defined following ISO 13849-1: 2006 and applied for the architecture structure. These changes and others will definitely be improvements for robot manufacturers and systems integrators.

Robotic innovations, safety - April 2013 - Control Engineering cover photo courtesy: Universal Robots

Control Engineering April cover

story on robotics includes more

about robotic safety.


RIA robotic safety standard was discussed at Pack Expo 2012. Courtesy CFE MediaTo take a step back - does this mean that all of the additional requirements from ISO 13849-1 for “designers” will likewise be required for compliance to the updated ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard?

If so, I guess the robot manufacturers, systems integrators and some end users, all of which have “designers,” will find a way to comply with the additional requirements. From an enforcement model comparison this seems to fall directly in line with the European Model. But, as I’ve previously blogged, what about the other half of industry here in the U.S., which doesn't have “designers” in their businesses? And, the U.S. enforcement model (OSHA) places the first responsibility for safety on the end user of machinery in contrast to the European model. If these end users (without designers) could follow 15.06: 1999 for compliance with OSHA will they also be able to follow 15.06: 2012?

If the answer to this question doesn’t have an easy answer, then what’s happened? It’s been my experience that U.S. standards bodies are reluctant to add new heavy requirements to “all” users of their standard in order to meet the overall intent of the updated standard. Is OSHA going to adopt the European enforcement model?

Can anyone help us out with this over-arching question for “all” user compliance?

Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

J.B. Titus, CFSE

Related articles:

Inside Machines: Does adopting ISO 13849-1:2006 change the U.S. model for compliance and enforcement?

Machine Safety - updating ISO 13849-1 compliance for robots.

Updating Minds About Machine Safety

Machine Safety – does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?

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