Wearable IMU-based real-time motion warning system for construction workers' musculoskeletal disorders prevention

Xuzhong Yan, Heng Li, Angus R. Li, Hong Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) around lower back and neck amongst construction workers are precursors of operational injury in the construction industry. As a significant risk factor of WMSDs, time spent in insecure operational postures should be proactively prevented. This study developed a real-time motion warning personal protective equipment (PPE) that enables workers' self-awareness and self-management of ergonomically hazardous operational pattern for the prevention of WMSDs based on wearable Inertial Measurement Units (WIMUs). Data processing and real-time warning algorithms are proposed for automatically risk postures assessment and warning through a connected smartphone application as soon as dangerous operational patterns are detected. The system was tested and validated with robust clinical motion data output and effective alarm ringing in both laboratory and field experiments on a construction site in Hong Kong. The proposed PPE provides an alternative to help construction workers prevent WMSDs without disturbance and distraction in operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-11
Number of pages10
JournalAutomation in Construction
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Alarm
  • Clinical motion data
  • Lower back pain
  • Motion warning
  • PPE
  • Self-management
  • WIMU
  • WMSDs prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction

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