Why Everyone Is Talking About Type of Exoskeletons for Construction Workers? Right Now
Updated: Mar 30, 2022
Protective exoskeletons have not yet gone mainstream among construction workers, but experts predict they are the wave of the future.
These robotic exoskeletons, also known as exosuits, sport a light metal framework that mimics the human skeleton. When workers wear these exoskeletons, the objects they lift seem lighter – nearly weightless. The exosuits are available in different versions, one of which is passive, containing no motors or batteries to aid in lifting. Active exosuits do contain these elements, but construction workers are more likely to use passive exoskeletons.
The use of exoskeletons reduces worker injuries. Ford Motor Company adopted exoskeletons for some of its workforces back in 2011, and since then there has been a whopping 83 percent decrease in the number of injuries reported in units using
A Ford ergonomics expert says that when injuries do occur, they most often affect the shoulder. Not only does the shoulder suffer the highest number of injuries, but they take longer to heal and return to full functioning. Shoulder surgeries are also among the more expensive orthopedic operations.
As more construction companies adopt the exoskeleton, workplace injuries are expected to fall accordingly. Not only do workplace injuries affect a company’s bottom line, let alone the health of employees, but when fewer workers are hurt on the job, there is less need for hiring and training people to replace those recuperating. Another plus – people who cannot currently work in the industry due to disabilities may have a chance at such jobs if an exosuit is available.
Types of Exoskeletons
While full-body exosuits are on the market, they are overkill for many construction workers, as well as employer wallets. The more common type of exosuits found on the job include:
*Back support exoskeletons: These devices ensure workers are lifting objects in the correct manner, as well as helping them maintain proper posture.
*Arm support limbs: These exosuits aid employees in lifting heavy tools and similar items. Workers can avoid repetitive stress injuries with these limbs, even when performing repetitive tasks over the long term.
*Mounted arm exosuits: This version consists of a spring-loaded arm allowing a worker to carry a heavy tool, with the tool’s weight transmitted to the ground. With this device, workers can complete tasks much more quickly.
Exoskeletons, for all their bells and whistles, really are not new. They originated in the military back in the 1960s, and like all such devices, have become more sophisticated ever since. Right now, a worker can lift 200 pounds using an exoskeleton with the same amount of effort expended as picking up a pen.
Exoskeletons are not cheap, with even the simplest units running thousands of dollars; but prices are dropping. That, and their other features, are making the purchase of such suits more attractive to the construction industry.
Companies can work with manufacturers to design exoskeletons with features addressing their exact needs. In the next several years, expect to see exosuits worn at many major construction and manufacturing projects.