Category: Robotics

Algorithms and the Future of Work

An algorithm is a series of precise, step-by-step instructions used by a machine to perform a mathematical operation.[1] The use of algorithm-enabled systems and devices will bring many benefits to occupational safety and health but, as with many new technologies, there are also risks to workers. A new commentary in the American Journal of Industrial Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MDLeave a comment

The Role of Robotics in the Future of Work

  NIOSH established the Future of Work Initiative in response to rapid changes in the workplace, work, and workforce. The Initiative seeks to prompt research and practical approaches to address future occupational safety and health concerns. Increased use and rapid technologic advances in robotics fits within the sphere of changes in how work will increasingly Read More >

Posted on by Dawn N. Castillo, MPH; Jacob L. Carr, PhD; W. Allen Robison, PhD1 Comment

Newly Archived Webinar Recordings Highlighting How Emerging Technologies Can Prevent Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders

  NIOSH recently posted seven webinars to YouTube highlighting the use of emerging technologies to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Although the webinars are from 2018-2021, the content is still informative and relevant and receiving praise from those in the industry. The series of webinars focuses on using emerging technologies as interventions or for conducting Read More >

Posted on by Jack Lu, Jessica Ramsey, Brent Baker, and Menekse Barim1 Comment

Exoskeletons: Potential for Preventing Work-related Musculoskeletal Injuries and Disorders in Construction Workplaces

Construction workers are at high risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). One potential tool to prevent WMSDs is the use of exoskeletons, which are assistive devices that can be suitable for construction and other industrial work (see related NIOSH pages on robotics and the Center for Occupational Robotics Research). Exoskeletons can be categorized as passive Read More >

Posted on by Sang D. Choi, PhD, MPH(c), MS, CSP, CPE; Douglas Trout, MD, MHS; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; and CDR Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH1 Comment

The Role of Demographics in the Future of Work

  The future of work continues to be shaped by ongoing changes in the workplace, work, and workforce. Shifting workforce demographics will present both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH). A central challenge will be ensuring the equitable distribution of work-related benefits and risks that accompany these transformations. To meet this challenge, Read More >

Posted on by Laura Syron, PhD, MPH; Marie-Anne S. Rosemberg, PhD, MN, RN, FAAOHN; Michael A Flynn, MA; Jacqueline Sivén, PhD, MA, MPH; Andrea Steege, PhD, MPH; Sara L. Tamers, PhD, MPH3 Comments

Exoskeletons and Occupational Health Equity

  In the workplace, you need your equipment to fit perfectly. Historically, personal protective equipment (PPE) had been developed from measurements taken from male military recruits in the United States during the 1950s to the 1970s [1]. These data do not represent the range of body shapes and sizes in the majority of the modern Read More >

Posted on by Lakshmi D. Robertson, DrPH, MSPH; Laura Syron, PhD, MPH; Michael Flynn, MA; Ted Teske, MA; Hongwei Hsiao, PhD; Jack Lu, PhD, CPE; and Brian D. Lowe, PhD, CPE7 Comments

Can Exoskeletons Reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders in Healthcare Workers?

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) remain a major concern for workers in the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers are at high risk of work-related MSDs mainly caused by overexertion from lifting and moving patients (i.e., patient handling). Wearable robots—exoskeletons or exosuits—may be a useful tool to help reduce risk of MSDs during patient handling. Background Based on the Read More >

Posted on by Liying Zheng, PhD3 Comments

Industrial Exoskeletons

Exoskeletons used in the workplace are referred to as “industrial exoskeletons.” Their purpose is to augment, amplify, or reinforce the performance of a worker’s existing body components—primarily the lower back and the upper extremity (arms and shoulders). Despite a lack of research, manufacturers of these devices claim productivity gains, work quality improvements, and a reduction Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MD; Vladimir Murashov, PhD; Brian D. Lowe, PhD, CPE; and Jack Lu, PhD, CPE7 Comments

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work

What does Artificial Intelligence (AI) have to do with workplace safety and health? NIOSH has been at the forefront of workplace safety and robotics, creating the Center for Occupational Robotics Research (CORR) and posting blogs such as A Robot May Not Injure a Worker: Working safely with robots. However, much remains unknown regarding the related Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MD60 Comments

FACE Investigations Make Recommendations to Improve the Safety of New Types of Robots

U.S. companies are installing robots in record numbers (1). These include traditional industrial robots separated from human workers by cages and cells, as well as emerging robotics technologies that include robots designed to work alongside and in the same space as human workers. From a health and safety perspective, the proliferation of robotics technologies across Read More >

Posted on by Todd Schoonover, PhD; Christina Rappin; Randy Clark; Stephanie Stevens, MA; and Dawn Castillo, MPH2 Comments

Labor Day Message from NIOSH Director, John Howard, MD

More than just a “day off,” Labor Day provides us a moment to pause and reflect on the efforts and sacrifice all men and women across the nation have worked through to keep this country moving, day and night, contributing to the economic and material well-being of its inhabitants. NIOSH’s mission has been and will Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MD2 Comments

NIOSH Presents: An Occupational Safety and Health Perspective on Robotics Applications in the Workplace

On October 12, 2017, three researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) gave a panel presentation at the National Robot Safety Conference on robotics applications in the workplace and worker safety. The conference was hosted in Pittsburgh, PA by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). Among the attendees were robotics engineers and Read More >

Posted on by Hongwei Hsiao, PhD; HeeSun Choi, PhD, John Sammarco, PhD; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Dawn Castillo, MPH; and Gene Hill2 Comments

Can Drones Make Construction Safer?

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) often called drones are increasingly used for military, recreational, public, and commercial purposes. UAVs have the potential to prevent injury and death in the construction industry where nearly 1,000 workers died in 2015. Advancements in UAV technology could help reduce construction-related injury and death from falls, toxic chemical exposures, electrical hazards, Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MD; Vladimir Murashov, PhD; and Christine Branche, PhD, FACE35 Comments

Exoskeletons in Construction: Will they reduce or create hazards?

Wearable exoskeleton devices can reduce some of the mechanical stress of manual labor (1). These wearable machines can be powered by electricity or by human motion, and they can be as large as a space suit or as small as a glove. (1; 2) They are used to amplify or transform worker movements, improve biomechanics Read More >

Posted on by Alissa Zingman, MD; G. Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Brian D. Lowe, PhD, CPE; Christine M. Branche, Ph.D., FACE; 4 Comments

Wearable Exoskeletons to Reduce Physical Load at Work

Robotic-like suits which provide powered assist and increase human strength may conjure thoughts of sci-fi and superhero film genres. But these wearable exoskeleton devices are now a reality and the market for their applications in the workplace is projected to increase significantly in the next five years.  As with any technologic innovation some of the Read More >

Posted on by Brian D. Lowe, PhD, CPE; Robert B. Dick, PhD, Captain USPHS (Ret.); Stephen Hudock, PhD, CSP; and Thomas Bobick, PhD, CSP, CPE 15 Comments

A Robot May Not Injure a Worker: Working safely with robots

  Robots are used in increasing numbers in the workplace and in society in general. As their numbers and capabilities increase, observers have urged that scientists, engineers, and policymakers explore the implications of robotics for society, to ensure that the rise of robots will not spell “doom for humanity” as some critics have warned [1]. Read More >

Posted on by Vladimir Murashov, PhD; Frank Hearl, PE; and John Howard, M.D.156 Comments