Upper body musculoskeletal disorders are among the most common work-related diseases in Germany. The development of such disorders is usually associated with high levels of physical strain in the workplace. Passive upper body exoskeletons offer a potential preventive approach that may relieve the strains to which employees are subject. As of yet, however, there is little verified information about the physical effects of the long-term use of exoskeletons in the workplace. It is therefore necessary to research the positive and negative consequences of using exoskeletons over long stretches of time, if possible complaints or disadvantageous effects on the worker's musculoskeletal system arise.
This project will examine the physical impacts of the long-term use of passive upper body exoskeletons. For this purpose, BAuA will accompany workers who wear passive upper body exoskeletons over a period of one year. A longitudinal online survey and a laboratory experiment will be carried out to investigate positive and negative changes in exoskeleton users' musculature and movement behaviours, as well as their subjective perceptions.
The results will serve as a basis on which to draw up criteria and recommendations for the long-term use of exoskeletons. In this way, the project will help ensure a human-centred approach is taken to work supported with body worn assistance systems.
Unit 2.3 "Human Factors, Ergonomics"