A man was crushed to death after an industrial robot at a factory mistook him for a box of vegetables and pushed him into a conveyor belt.
The South Korean man was working a night shift at a South Gyeongsang factory when the fatal incident happened.
The victim, who was in his 40s, was inspecting one of the sensors on the machine – which was moving boxes of vegetables onto a pellet – when its metallic arm hooked onto the man and pushed him against the moving conveyor belt.
The force dealt by the machine simultaneously crushed his chest and arm.
Despite being dashed to the hospital almost immediately, he succumbed to his injuries. He had allegedly filled in to conduct tests that were scheduled to take place on November 6.
According to police sources, the humanoid robot seemed to have malfunctioned as it thought the man was a box of peppers. Police officers are now investigating the site’s safety managers for potential negligence.
After the fatal accident, a spokesperson for the Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex, the company that owns the factory, called for a safe and precise system to be put in place to prevent such a tragedy from repeating in the future.
The tragic incident takes place a year after an American woman died after getting stuck in a bread machine for over an hour. The 44-year-old woman, Virginia Lopez Severiano, was at work cleaning an industrial bread machine in Selma, North Carolina when half her body became trapped in it.
Last year, a construction worker from the UK also lost his life after being injured by a machine at a nuclear power station. Despite a quick response by medical staff, he couldn’t be saved and died not long afterward.
And in 2021, a 61-year-old man was killed after becoming trapped in equipment at a steel polishing factory in Geneva, Illinois. He was immediately taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
The Use of Industrial Robots
For decades, industrial robots have been used to carry out routine tasks such as sorting goods and assembly. Their main function is to deal with repetitive and potentially dangerous tasks.
From 1992 to 2017, however, 41 individuals have been killed by these robots, according to a study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Perhaps even more surprising, is the fact that 83 percent of the fatal incidents were caused by stationary, not mobile robots.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of these accidents take place during routine maintenance of the machines, as opposed to when they’re conducting their tasks.