Exoskeletons Research

Exoskeletons Research

Occupational Ergonomics and Biomechanics Laboratory

Agriculture and forestry

Agriculture and forestry are two of the most dangerous industries in the US with a high prevalence and incident rate of occupational injuries.

While forestry, nursery and vineyard industries are major economic drivers in the Pacific Northwest agriculture, these three sectors have the highest MSD rates (60 per 1000 workers in forestry, 40 per 1000 workers in nursery and 80 per 1000 workers in vineyard).

These MSD rates are almost 100 times higher than the industrial targets set by NIOSH (Healthy People, 2000). This disproportionally high injury rate is due to the physically demanding nature of the work performed in harsh environment (e.g., outdoor, heat/cold stress, steep, uneven and wet ground) posing various physical risk factors.

Our exoskeleton research in Forestry and Agriculture is to reduce biomechanical load associated with various forestry tasks and therfore improve health and well-being of forestry and agriculture workers.

Virtual/Augmented Reality

Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) has been becoming increasingly recognized as promising computer-human interfaces due to various advantages including intuitive interface, naturalistic gestures, better engagment, improved learning outcomes, etc.

Despite these documented benefits, VR/AR may pose substantial shoulder strain because VR/AR interactions often requires larger movements of the upper extremities in an absence of adequate postural support. The lack of body support can increase risks for musculoskeletal discomfort and injuries especially for prolonged VR/AR interactions.

Our research is evaluating passive upper-limb exoskeletons to reduce shoulder and neck strain during VR/AR interactions.

On-going Research Project

  • As a part of "Smart Forestry" project, OEB lab will evaluate the efficacy of wearable exoskeletons on improving occupational safety and health for the next-generation forestry operation as well as the sustainability and longevity of forestry workers in Oregon and beyond.
  • "Systematic evaluation of exoskeletons in reducing musculoskeletal disorders in manual timber felling" to reduce physical risk factors and associated injuries of forest workers during timber felling operations by introducing exoskeletons as an ergonomic control.
    • Sponsor: NIOSH-sponsored Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center
    • PIs: Jay Kim, PhD; Woodam Chung, PhD

 

We are collecting surveys from various stakeholders in Forestry including timber fellers, logging workers, safety professionals, managers, supervisors, educators, and industry owners in order to determine industry's readiness for exoskeletons.  If you are associated with foresty industry, please fill out the survey here: 

Wearable Exoskeleton Device Survey for Forestry Industry (Oregon State University)


Looking forward to your inputs and feedback.

 

Relevant publications