Last year we teamed up with RANZ to conduct a small-scale workplace pilot that trialled the Exxovantage HAPO back exoskeleton as an ergonomic design intervention for its potential to reduce the adverse effects of prolonged stooping postures when roofing.
Three roofers trialled the exoskeleton at various building sites and on different pitched roofs over a one-week period. Despite the small sample size, results showed substantial physiological improvements from wearing the exoskeleton. The participants agreed to varying levels that the exoskeleton reduced fatigue, musculoskeletal discomfort, pain, and injury.
To further explore these findings and test the recommendations made within the report, another trial is already underway – watch this space!
Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) partnered with the Roofing Association of New Zealand (RANZ) to form the Roofing MSD Taskforce, which identified ground level work in a bent over or ‘stooped’ position as a significant risk factor for MSD. This small-scale workplace pilot aims to trial the Exxovantage HAPO back exoskeleton as an ergonomic design intervention for its potential to reduce the adverse effects of a prolonged stooped posture when roofing. Three roofers trialled the exoskeleton at various building sites and on different pitched roofs over a one-week period. This pilot employed a participative ergonomics approach, allowing the participants to contribute suggestions and guide the direction of the research. Data collection occurred in two stages; phase one was the collection of objective metrics through a Firstbeat heart measurement device. Phase two was the collection of subjective data through an online survey and a final group evaluation session.
Despite the small sample size, on average, results showed substantial physiological improvements from wearing the exoskeleton, with an average physiological score increase of 11%. The balance between stress and recovery increased on average by 6%, the restorative effect of sleep increased on average by 9%, and the health effects of physical activity increased on average by 16%. Overall, participants agreed to varying levels that using the exoskeleton reduced fatigue, musculoskeletal discomfort, pain, and injury. Due to weather and workload constraints, conducting another trial within the summer months was recommended. Such a trial could also provide confirmation of the results seen by this trial, thus ensuring its validity and reliability whilst also enabling some of the recommended improvements to the exoskeleton and its use to be made.
Thank you to the trial coordinators, Chris Polaczuk and Kate Poole from CHASNZ.
This research trial was made possible with the support of Arnaud Daurat from Exxovantage, Dr Kelly Dale from Healthy Lifestyle NZ, Jenny Maxwell, the HSE Manager at CS Roofing Canterbury, and Paul Stanley-Boden from Red & Black Roofing Co Ltd.
We especially want to thank the three Roofers willing to participate in this trial. We hope this trial will help make a difference in the aches and pains prevalent in the industry.