Online tool designed to identify ‘the right places’ to use workplace exoskeletons

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
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Photo: Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN — A free online tool developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University is intended to help employers assess how and where exoskeletons could help reduce work-related back injuries “without the need for costly and time-consuming experiments.”

Exoskeletons are used in a variety of industries to relieve physical strain and overexertion, which accounts for 38.5% of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, a university press release states, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Exo-LiFFT is an interactive calculator designed to help employers who are “looking for ways to overcome workforces struggling with musculoskeletal injuries, missed work and accelerated retirement amongst skilled laborers.”

The tool was developed in collaboration with industrial engineers from Auburn University and an ergonomist from a supplier of workforce wearables. The researchers, from Vanderbilt’s Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology, project that exoskeleton use in material handling has the potential to reduce back injuries up to 60%.

The free tool is available in three versions: an online calculator for either single or multitask assessment or as a downloadable Excel worksheet.

“If we can identify the right places to deploy exoskeletons, then they can reduce injury risks as well as bodily discomfort, which impacts workers on the job and at home,” Karl Zelik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt, said in the release. “Exoskeletons may also help improve worker recruitment and retention, which have been costly pain points for employers amidst the labor shortage.”

Further details of the tool were explored in a study published online Nov. 2 in the journal Applied Ergonomics.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Construction safety report looks at hazard prevention for human-robot interactions

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo: CPWR

Silver Spring, MD — To help assess and quantify human-robot interaction safety hazards on construction worksites, a recently published report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training details a newly developed practical process and tools for practitioners.

CPWR researchers looked at hazards linked to the use of robotics and automation, such as drones, exoskeletons and “single-task” construction robots. They identified 40 such hazards and classified them into seven groups, including unauthorized access or operational situation awareness, mechanical concerns, power systems, and improper installation.

The researchers developed safety risk ratings for three kinds of robotics and automation – wearable robots, remote-operated robots and automated robots onsite – for three kinds of construction tasks (bricklaying, drywall installation, and concrete grinding and polishing).

From there, the researchers developed 22 preventive strategies and created a process for assessing and controlling hazards related to human-robot interaction. The process includes Safety Data Sheets on the use of exoskeletons, remote-operated robots and onsite automated robots, such as those involved in bricklaying. Also included are Job Hazard Analysis protocols for different tasks.

The report features descriptions of available robotics and automation technologies, applications of those technologies, factors that influence the use of those technologies, and current standards and procedures.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.