Morrison Utility Services workers trial ‘bionic’ exoskeletons

Morrison Utility Services, is trialling high-tech, spring-loaded, upper body exoskeletons, designed to elevate and support arms during manual, chest-high-to-overhead handling tasks.

Workers on the company’s Yorkshire Water contract team are exploring the potential health, safety, wellbeing and productivity benefits of the EksoVest exoskeletons.

The vests are supposed to result in fewer strain related injuries, a reduction in lost working days and lower fatigue levels, leading to increased worker alertness, productivity and work-quality.

The trial programme includes lifting and handling activities in the company’s Normanton stores depot and around hoppers used by site clearance support teams. It is also being used to support reinstatement teams using the company’s purpose-built Roadmender asphalt unit, and supporting backfill teams loading and unloading rammers onto the sides of vehicles.

Morrison Utility Services executive director John Edwards said: “Augmenting human capability offers scope for significant safety, health and wellbeing benefits for our people working in the field, some of whom are involved in physically demanding, repetitive activities over extended periods of time. The benefits of this wearable technology will include reduced tiredness, a reduction in strain-related injuries and the ability for our people to work for longer periods without any detriment to their wellbeing.

“The use of exoskeletons could also help our sector tackle the ongoing skills shortage, as some members of the workforce could find that the use of such innovative wearable technology may help them carry out the more physical aspects of a job, thus opening up otherwise lost opportunities.”

Late last year, Willmott Dixon announced that it was also trialling the Eksovest in what it claimed at the time was an industry first for construction workers. The vests cost around £5,650 each.

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