(Photo Credit: REX FEATURES)

A 49-year-old, Chinese factory worker named as Mr. Zhou, was working the night shift at a porcelain factory in Hunan province when he was struck by a falling robotic arm and skewered with ten metal spikes (each a foot long and a half-inch thick).

Due to the severity of his injuries, he was transferred from his local hospital to the Xiangya Hospital of Central South University so doctors could remove the six steel rods fixed on a steel plate that had pierced his right shoulder and chest, and the four others that had penetrated his body.

During the operation, doctors found that one of the rods missed an artery by just 0.1mm.1 Wu Panfeng, an associate professor of hand microsurgery said, “They were relatively big so there was no means of getting fitting the patient into the X-ray machine while the nails themselves could have caused interference with X-rays.” 2

Working through the night, surgeons were able to remove all the rods from Mr. Zhou’s body and he is now in stable condition. He will still need to undergo treatment and physiotherapy to assist in his recovery but he is already able to move his right arm.

Mr. Zhou was lucky. Others in his position have not been:

  • American factory worker Wanda Holbrook was killed by a rogue robot who had veered into the area she was working in and crushed her head.
  • In 2015, an unnamed 22-year-old man working at a car plant in Germany was part of a team that was setting up the stationary robot at a Volkswagen plant when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate.

I cannot imagine being impaled, let alone surviving. He surely is a lucky man. We wish him all the best in his recovery.


  1. The Sun
  2. The Sun