In the UK, construction company Willmott Dixon is testing a robotic suit for heavy lifting in Cardiff. The suits, termed ‘eksovests’ by robotics company Eksobionics, are designed to support workers’ arms during heavy lifting and cost over GBP5,600 each. A Willmott Dixon representative explained that the suits could reduce worker exhaustion and increase and increase wellbeing.
Construction worker safety and productivity are chief concerns for the industry. While the cost of the bionic vests may be prohibitive at this stage, could decreasing costs over time and economies of scale see suits like these entering the construction industry in the future? If so, what gains in risk management, productivity, and employee wellbeing might be realized? Could bionic suits become ubiquitous and what effects might the increased hardware have on construction workers’ health and the environmental costs of construction?