Publications / 2022 Proceedings of the 39th ISARC, Bogotá, Colombia

Subjective Evaluation of Passive Back-Support Wearable Robot for Simulated Rebar Work

Nihar Gonsalves, Mohamad Khalid, Abiola Akinniyi, Omobolanle Ogunseiju and Abiola Akanmu
Pages 430-436 (2022 Proceedings of the 39th ISARC, Bogotá, Colombia, ISBN 978-952-69524-2-0, ISSN 2413-5844)

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders continue to be a severe problem in the construction industry. Rebar workers are exposed to ergonomic risks such as repetitive stooping and forward bending resulting in low back injuries. Wearable systems such as back support exoskeletons are emerging as potential solution to reducing the risk of low back injuries. User acceptance of exoskeletons is necessary to facilitate adoption of the technology in the construction industry. Exoskeletons could have unintended consequences such as discomfort and interference with work. This paper presents an assessment of a commercially available back-support exoskeleton for rebar work in terms of usability and perceived discomfort. Ten student participants performed rebar tasks with and without the back-support exoskeleton. Participants completed usability (ease of use, learning, and comfort) and level of perceived discomfort questionnaires after the task. Findings indicate that the back-support exoskeleton is easy to learn and use but reduced the participant's comfort. Although, the exoskeleton triggered increased discomfort, there was a reduction in the level of perceived discomfort at the lower back and lower leg. This study contributes to existing discourse on the influence of perceived usability and level of discomfort when using exoskeleton on user acceptance.

Keywords: Wearable robot; Rebar work; Usability; Discomfort