One of the most exciting technological advancements aimed at improving construction processes is the exoskeleton. While the benefits of this technology are hard to ignore, the exoskeleton industry has to overcome many hurdles before widespread adoption can take place. In this article, an Orlando construction lawyer will discuss some of these hurdles. The use of exoskeletons on the project site is surely on the horizon, but before that can happen, the industry as a whole needs to understand the effect that this cutting-edge technology will have on the safety of workers and the overall workflow of construction projects. Otherwise, what was designed to protect workers and enhance performance could become the source of countless Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations.
A Lack of Common Standards Stifle Adoption
Imagine if there were no common standards dictating the safe use of cranes; crane operators everywhere would be free to get the job done as they see fit. This would undoubtedly decrease worker safety and hinder the success of construction projects. If that scenario sounds bad, imagine droves of workers outfitted in exoskeletons running around on the project site. It’s a recipe for disaster.
The solution is clearly the development of common standards for the use of exoskeleton technology in the construction industry. Without clear-cut guidelines, common terminology, or testing methods, users are forced to develop their own practices for operating, evaluating, and maintaining their exoskeletons. Although there is currently a disconnect between the advancement of this technology and the advancement of standards to help control this technology, organizations like ASTM International and the International Organization for Standards are starting to roll out some much-needed rules. Unfortunately, those that exist are not comprehensive enough to serve the industry as a whole.
Are Exoskeletons Worth the Trouble?
This topic is important because, as the construction industry continues to grow and change, we’re still seeing a substantial number of work-related injuries on the project site. Some of these injuries occur because a worker did something ill-advised, while others develop slowly over time. These types of injuries, which are generally the result of reaching and lifting, can take an extreme toll on the body as the years go by. Exoskeletons aim to reduce the strain on workers’ bodies while simultaneously decreasing the amount of time spent lifting by increasing workers’ capacity. With exoskeletons, workers suffer from less fatigue and strain-related injuries while increasing efficiency. It’s a win-win for workers and employers, as long as reasonable standards can be adopted by the industry as a whole.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.