Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Robot?

Robots are most useful for highly repetitive work or tasks done where it's physically unsafe for a human worker to be.

I'm fairly confident a robot could not replace me in my current job. In fact, the work I do day in and day out is a good example of computing technology's positive impact on almost all of our workplaces—the process of producing these print magazines, for example, involves only a fraction of the workforce needed 20 years ago. But I can't see how robots could fill our shoes.

Y Soft Corporation (https://www.ysoft.com/en) conducted a survey of more than a thousand U.S. workers during June 2018 to find out how they feel about robots. The company, which is based in the Czech Republic and has a North American office in Grapevine, Texas, uses robots in product testing for printing products it makes.

While almost 80 percent of its survey respondents said robots aren't in use at all in their workplaces, about 17 percent said they are in use or there are plans to use them. And 83.78 percent said they do not believe their own job can be replaced by a robot.

Nearly 23 percent of workers under age 30 said they are worried about being replaced by robots, while only 9 percent of workers age 45-60 shared that fear. Karen Lachtanski, Y Soft's director of global communications, said the milliennials' answer to that question was one of the most interesting results from the survey. "They're a little more worried about being replaced," probably because of news stories about robots that cook hamburgers or serve as hotel valets, she said.

But those tasks aren't what robots are best suited for, Lachtanski said. Robots are most useful for highly repetitive work or tasks done where it's physically unsafe for a human worker to be, she explained.

Perhaps surprisingly, 51.33 percent of the respondents said they would feel comfortable working alongside a robot if it allowed them to focus on the core, less repetitive parts of their job. Only 20.94 percent said they would not feel comfortable.

Nearly 60 percent said a world where their entire work environment involves robotics will not come about in their lifetime, and Lachtanski agreed. The day when most of us are reporting to "Jetsons"-style workplaces is "far off," she said.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark CP

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2020

    October 2020

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SECURITY
      EHS Compliance: Make it Personal
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Choosing the Right Safety Shoe for Your Industry
    • HAND PROTECTION
      A Requirements Checklists for Work Safety Gloves
    • COVID-19 MANAGEMENT
      Contemporary Issues in HSE Management
    View This Issue