CDME receives OSHA grant to enhance industrial robotic safety

Two CDME students working with robots.

Central Ohio's economy is rapidly growing with multiple advanced manufacturing facilities opening in the region, all of which will require workers to be knowledgeable of their complicated factory systems and controls. Students must be ready to enter the workforce and work in environments with numerous industrial robots and be prepared for potentially dangerous situations.

The Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) at The Ohio State University received a one year, $75,000 grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Susan Harwood Training Grant Program to create a set of safety training curricula focused on working in and around industrial robots as safely as possible.

The training will be targeted to students currently in career technical or specialized STEM training schools, as students at these schools have more opportunities to encounter industrial robotics. CDME has a variety of industrial robots in its Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (AIMS) Lab and places a high commitment to occupational health and safety goals.

“We’re excited to work with local K-12 education partners to introduce industrial automation safety at such an early point in their young careers. We hope that by providing these education partners with both safety curriculum as well as the 3D printed industrial robot these students will have hands on experiences that keep them safe in an increasingly automated workplace,” said Ryan Petitti, project team member and CDME director of lab services.

The funding will support the development of an essential safety curriculum by enabling CDME staff and their students to focus on curriculum creation, allow for the use of CDME's experimental manufacturing facilities for testing, fund travel expenses for CDME staff to attend OSHA-mandated events and provide necessary classroom supplies for the successful implementation of the pilot course. During the grant period, an evaluation will be conducted for a 2-hour pilot training session involving 40 workers and employees.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, administered by OSHA, allocates grants to support the development of training and educational initiatives focused on workplace hazards. Additionally, the program serves to educate both workers about their rights and employers about their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The project team is a group of experts in both robotics and workforce development. The principal investigator for the grant is Michael Groeber, PhD, an associate professor of integrated systems engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering and faculty director of the AIMS Lab. Groeber will leverage his expertise in industrial robotics research  to guide the courses.

Ryan Petitti is also a part of the project team. Petitti has extensive experience creating safety training programs for the National Center for Defense Manufacturing which will be extremely helpful for this project. Adam Buynak, AIMS Lab lead engineer, who has experience teaching secondary school students and developed safety training for robotic systems while at CDME, will also contribute to the project.

CDME will also work closely with Ohio State’s Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS). EHS will evaluate the training materials to ensure they meet all OSHA standards. EHS and CDME have worked together in the past on other training programs that included OHSA level 1 reaction evaluations as well as level 2 learning assessments.

In addition, EHS also hosts an annual OSHA Safety Day. This event provides a platform for staff, students and industry professionals to stay updated on the latest safety protocols. It includes expert-led presentations, workshops and interactive sessions, emphasizing the ongoing importance of safety in the industry. This collaboration allows EHS to ensure CDME is up to date with OSHA, while also providing valuable support to curriculum development. 

By: Sarah Lowenthal, CDME marketing and communications student assistant

Categories: AwardsResearch
Tag: AIMS Lab