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How Exoskeletons Can Protect Your Crew

You may not be surprised to hear these OSHA statistics: 21 percent of all worker fatalities occur in the construction industry, while one out of every ten construction workers is injured on sites each year. You may even witness instances that contribute to those numbers every day. So, the question is this: How can you protect your employees? 

Researchers at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Rutgers University are working on a wearable exoskeleton that may provide the protection you and your team require.  

The Idea Behind the Research 

LSU faculty members Chao Wang and Fereydoun Aghazadeh have joined forces with Rutgers to develop robotic technologies that will save both time and lives on construction sites. They note there is a shortage of construction workers, and one reason for that shortage could be risk. Workers are less likely to accept jobs if they worry about their safety. 

“Construction workers get hurt for three reasons,” Aghazadeh said. “Number one, they are tired. Number two, the task is beyond their capacity. Number three, they are not properly trained. If they don’t have the capacity to do the physical work, how can we enhance their physical capability? We can give them more power. This project is all about that.” 

Wang explained that there are a few exoskeleton products on the market already, but they are more suited for manufacturing. “We’re seeing how we can explore personalized exoskeleton or robotics technology,” he said. “In a manufacturing facility, a worker probably does the same thing 1,000 times a day. It’s repetitive, which is perfect for an exoskeleton because they design it just for that one task. A construction site is a lot different. You must be able to climb stairs, walk, squat, and reach out to different levels depending on what trade you are in.” 

The Benefits of an Exoskeleton 

The exoskeleton is a remarkable robotic suit worn on limbs and other parts of the body. The device offers support that benefits your workers in a variety of ways. 

  • Higher productivity: Studies show that workers who wear exoskeletons experience less fatigue and complete more tasks with fewer breaks. 
  • Fewer injuries: Crew members report less muscle strain when wearing exoskeletons, which results in fewer instances of neck, back, and shoulder injuries. 
  • Increased comfort: Exoskeletons provide posture support, which helps keep employees more aligned and comfortable on the job. 
  • Improved work quality: When employees are supported and comfortable, they can work at their highest level, with fewer mistakes. 

What to Expect Next 

As the project evolves, the researchers plan to study the tasks each construction crew member performs. Then they will develop a robotic exoskeleton for those individual construction tasks. They will determine how much power the exoskeleton should have and whether it will support the lower or upper body. 

In addition, the researchers will study how a battery-powered exoskeleton can function in different kinds of weather. And they are collaborating with construction industry professionals to gain their input and create the safest, most efficient device. It will be interesting to see how the finished product will contribute to the modern worksite. 

If you have concerns about your employees’ safety, talk to the attorneys at Cotney Construction Law. We can help you review your options and improve your work environments. 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.