An employee at a vegetable packing facility in South Korea was fatally injured by an industrial robot.
According to authorities, a worker at a vegetable packaging facility in South Korea was fatally injured when an industrial robot malfunctioned and caused crushing injuries. An investigation is underway to determine if the robot was defective or had a faulty design.
According to the police, initial evidence indicates that human mistake was the probable cause rather than issues with the machine. However, this event raised worries among the public about the safety of industrial robots and the potential illusion of safety for humans working in close proximity in a country that heavily depends on automation in its industries.
The police in Goseong, a county in the southern region, reported that a man was killed on Tuesday evening due to injuries to his head and chest. He was grabbed and pushed into a conveyor belt by the robotic arms of a machine.
The man’s identity was not disclosed by the police, but it was revealed that he worked for a company that installs industrial robots. He was sent to the plant to inspect the machine’s functionality.
In the past few years, there have been other incidents in South Korea involving industrial robots. In March, a worker at an auto parts factory in Gunsan was severely injured when a manufacturing robot fell on them while they were inspecting it. In another incident last year, a worker at a milk factory in Pyeongtaek was killed by a robot near a conveyor belt.
According to police, one of the two pick-and-place robots at the packaging facility for bell peppers and other vegetables, caused a fatal incident on Tuesday. These types of machines are frequently used in South Korea’s agricultural areas, where there is a shortage of workers due to aging and declining population.
According to Kang Jin-gi, the leader of the investigations department at Gosong Police Station, the machine in question is not a sophisticated, AI-powered robot. It is a basic machine that only performs the task of picking up boxes and placing them on pallets. The police are collaborating with relevant agencies to investigate any potential technical malfunctions or safety concerns with the machine.
A different officer, who prefers to remain anonymous as he is not allowed to speak to the media, mentioned that the police are also investigating the potential for human mistake. According to the officer, the robot’s sensors are programmed to detect boxes, and footage from the security camera showed that the man was carrying a box when he approached the robot, which may have sparked the machine’s response.
According to him, this situation does not involve a robot mistaking a human for a box. He also mentioned that the machine was not highly advanced.
In 2021, South Korea had the most industrial robots per 10,000 employees compared to any other country, with a total of 1,000. This was over three times the number of industrial robots in China during that same year. These robots are primarily utilized in large manufacturing facilities, including those in the electronics and automotive industries.