Development and evaluation of a low-cost passive wearable exoskeleton system for improving safety and health performance of construction workers: A pilot study

Shahnawaz Anwer, Heng Li, Mohammed Abdul-Rahman, Maxwell Fordjour Antwi-Afari

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Construction workers have an increased risk of having muscle fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries, among other non-fatal workplace injuries. As a result, this project aimed to develop and evaluate a low-cost passive wearable exoskeleton system for improving construction workers’ safety and health performance, mainly by mitigating the risk of developing musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Surface electromyography (sEMG) was used to evaluate muscle activity in the Thoracic Erector Spinae (TES) and Lumbar Erector Spinae (LES) at the L3 and T12 vertebrae level, respectively, during repetitive handling tasks. In addition, both subjective (e.g., rating of the fatigue scale) and objective fatigue indicators (e.g., heart rate, skin temperature) were employed to assess fatigue. Exoskeleton use was associated with a 30% decrease in LES muscle activation compared to baseline. The application of an exoskeleton had a similar effect on the TES, decreasing muscle activity by 12%. When using an exoskeleton, a participant's neck kinematics were reduced by 23%, their low back kinematics by 11%, their hip kinematics by 5%, and their knee kinematics by 36%. Exoskeleton use was associated with a 13% decrease in heart rate and a 67% decrease in perceived fatigue. Nonetheless, skin temperature was raised by around 2% while using an exoskeleton compared to when not using one. Our preliminary findings suggest that the passive exoskeleton system could be an effective ergonomic intervention tool for assisting construction workers engaged in manual repetitive handling activities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 40th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction, ISARC 2023
EditorsBorja Garcia de Soto, Vicente Gonzalez, Ioannis Brilakis
PublisherInternational Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction (IAARC)
Pages164-171
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780645832204
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Event40th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction, ISARC 2023 - Chennai, India
Duration: 5 Jul 20237 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction
ISSN (Electronic)2413-5844

Conference

Conference40th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction, ISARC 2023
Country/TerritoryIndia
CityChennai
Period5/07/237/07/23

Keywords

  • Construction safety
  • Exoskeleton device
  • Fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence

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