Contractor Amey is testing the EksoVest during work for Transport Scotland. The EksoVest is a 4.3kg external metal frame that mirrors elements of the human skeletal structure. It is powered by a series of springs and supports workers’ arms to assist them with tasks ranging from chest height to overhead. It provides between 2.2kg and 6.8kg of lift assistance per arm, making it easier to lift objects.
Operatives have been wearing the vest to carry out a range of tasks including overhead grinding and welding to repair joints in the Forth Road Bridge, installing underdeck access, installing streetlighting and laying out and removing traffic management.
“Integrating technology into everyday tasks to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries to my operatives, is the driving force behind trialling the EskoVest,” said Mark Arndt, operating company representative for Amey’s Forth Bridges Unit. “The motorised skeletal vest not only has the capability to physically enhance the safety of our people, but it aims to lessen fatigue which will lead to an increase in productivity and a reduction in sickness absence.”
One of the employees who has trialled the EksoVest is Blair Masterton, a rigger at the Forth Road Bridge. He said: “This is definitely a good piece of kit in the right work situation. It’s easy to put on and there is a slight assist when lifting staging boards and other heavy items., It feels a bit tight and can get in the way when wearing a harness, but this trial should hopefully help to identify areas where improvements can be made.”
Kenny Horn, a welder/fabricator at the Forth Road Bridge, added: “I found the EksoVest to be helpful when grinding above head height, although I eventually did get pins and needles in my arms after using it for a prolonged period!”