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More robots lead to fewer workplace injuries: BOK

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Feb. 27, 2023 - 16:22

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This photo shows AGV robot used at Coupang's center in Daegu, Feb. 7. (Coupang) This photo shows AGV robot used at Coupang's center in Daegu, Feb. 7. (Coupang)

Industrial robots are found to have helped drastically reduce workplace injuries as well as improve the overall wellness of workers in labor-intensive industries, according to a report released by the Bank of Korea on Monday.

The report analyzed the industrial impact of robot adoption across industries between 2010 and 2019, especially on the number of workplace injuries.

According to the report, regions with more robots adopted saw fewer injuries at workplaces.

More specifically, when an average of 9.95 robots were adopted per 1,000 workers, the number of worker injuries decreased by 8 percent per 100 people.

The impact was more apparent in severe cases that could lead to permanent disability, with the number decreasing by 16.9 percent during the same period.

The report said a total of 41,245 fewer injuries occurred during the cited period, which means about 573.8 billion won ($435 million) have been saved on injury compensations.

The report said the reduced number of injuries also reflects a decreased number of manual workers as they are replaced by robots for labor-intensive and dangerous tasks.

According to the report, South Korea was the most advanced country in terms of robot adoption in 2020, with the highest density at workplaces -- 932 robots per 10,000 workers in 2020 -- followed by Singapore (605), Japan (390), Germany (371) and the US (255). The global average was 126.

“In regions with more robots, workers evaluated their health conditions more positively,” the report said. “The effect was more statistically meaningful among low-educated workers who are exposed to more robots at work.”

The report added the positive impact of industrial robots should be more effectively considered when related policies are discussed.