Systemic Evaluation of Exoskeletons in Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders in Manual Timber Felling

This small pilot project assessed logging stakeholders’ interests in the use of exoskeletons to reduce musculoskeletal injuries. Due to COVID-19, this needs assessment was conducted through an online survey of Northwest logging workers, safety managers, and educators in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.

Our survey demonstrates that the NW forestry industry is generally very interested in exoskeleton technologies and is willing to adopt exoskeletons should it be proven to be effective and safe in various logging environments.

Respondents felt the best opportunities will be for cutting and maintenance tasks. The survey also indicated chronic musculoskeletal strain in shoulders, back and knees. Shoulder and back strain could be reduced through exoskeleton use and aid older loggers. Future directions for this work will be to ensure its safety in the field, testing the exoskeleton users agility and movement.

Principal Investigator: Jay Kim, PhD, MS
Assistant Professor
Oregon State University

Resources:
OSU Forestry and Ergonmics website