Exoskeletons have been used for some time to good effect in medical rehabilitation, for example in order to enable victims of spinal injuries to walk again. Exoskeletons specifically for use at commercial workplaces are now increasingly appearing on the market. These systems are intended to provide mechanical assistance during strenuous tasks such as the lifting of loads or the performance of work overhead.
The biomechanical efficacy of exoskeletons in industrial applications is however still largely unknown. Growing interest in their use at industrial workplaces can already be observed, though. Their use has already been piloted in a number of companies. However, companies using the system are required to conduct a risk assessment in accordance with the German Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) for workplaces at which exoskeletons are to be used.
Against this background, the IFA has conducted a joint research project in which an exemplary risk assessment has been developed for exoskeletons and their use. The latter is also available in English.
Dr. Kai Heinrich, IFA
Picture: Investigation of exoskeletons in IFA’s ergonomics laboratory