icare's wearable technology study helps keep M4-M5 Link Tunnels' workers safer

A study into wearable technologies funded by the icare Foundation is trialling a unique off-body exoskeletal technology to protect those working on Sydney's M4-M5 Link Tunnels.

A WestConnex worker using an off-body exoskeletal technology.

Partnering with participating employer Acciona, icare piloted use of an innovative technology that assists workers with lifting heavy tools of up to 16kg.

The technology allows workers to lift these tools with minimum effort, reducing both workers' exposure to risk factors such as repetitive or sustained force and therefore reducing the potential risk of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

Using a gravity balancing arm which connects to work platforms, the technology is assisting workers on Sydney's M4-M5 Link Tunnels to effortlessly operate heavy tools such as rotary hammers, to complete repetitive work tasks in a much safer way.

Acciona Samsung Bouygues Joint Venture's Senior Safety Manager John Wither is seeing immediate benefits from the technology, both in terms of worker safety and increased productivity.

"Our workers are engaged in repetitive drilling tasks requiring them to use heavy equipment like a rotary hammer drill. Prior to trialling the technology, they actively avoided using the heavier drill, despite it being the most suitable tool for the job. They opted instead for the lighter tool which in turn requires them to hold the tool for much longer as it produces less torque," he said.

 

“With the introduction of this new technology, the crew is now able to effortlessly operate the heavier tool, reducing their exposure to fatigue and injuries and at the same time, increasing productivity.”

 

The off-body exoskeletal technology is compatible with a wide variety of tools used on large-scale infrastructure projects including rivet busters, demo hammers, rotary hammers, chipping hammers, impact wrenches and grinders and can be mounted to work platforms in just a few minutes.

This is the seventh and final pilot in icare's wearable technology study aimed at helping NSW workplaces transform the way they prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Watch this space for further updates on how these technologies are assisting other NSW businesses to keep their people safer.