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
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • 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.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2019

    November/December 2019

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      Redefining Compliance for the Gas Detection Buyer
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Don't Trip Over the Basics
    • VISION PROTECTION
      What to Look for in Head-to-Toe PPE Solutions
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Effective PPE for Flammable Dust
    View This Issue