Worker killed during Volkswagen robot assembly

Volkswagen factories make heavy use of automation. Image courtesy of Volkwagen.
Volkswagen factories make heavy use of automation (image courtesy of Volkswagen).

A worker has been killed at a Volkswagen factory in Germany in a freak accident involving an assembly line robot.

The incident occurred when an outside contractor working at the company’s Meissen factory was assembling a new robot for an electric motor production line.

Reportedly, during this process, the robot stuck the man, and pressed him against a metal slab, severely injuring the worker. Despite on-site first aid and resuscitation attempts, the worker later died in hospital from severe contusions to his chest area.

The 21-year old worker was reportedly standing inside of the robot’s caged production area when the accident occurred, while others watched from outside.

The robot was an assembly line machine, rather than from the newer generation of workplace robots designed to work with human counterparts.

Currently, exact details on why the accident occurred are not yet known, however the evidence seems to suggest that this was a result of human error, rather than anything more sinister.

Volkswagen is yet to release an official statement on the death, however, according to reporting by Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine, the company is conducting an investigation into whether occupational health and safety regulations had been breached.

In addition, the case has been referred to local authorities who are conducting their own investigation into what happened.

The latest statistics published by the International Federation of Robotics show that the market for workplace robots expanded by 12% in the 2013-2014 period, belying the proliferation of these systems, particularly in Asia.