Strategic Focus: Emerging Technologies For Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Frontline Workers

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Executive Summary

This report examines the emerging technologies to address work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) and how they are likely to evolve to meet growing industrial demand. Additionally, this report explores how the level of musculoskeletal risk within a job role does and should continue to shape firms’ adoption of these innovative solutions. Millions of workers around the world are suffering from WRMSDs, due to repetitive strain, improper posture, inadequate equipment and over-exertion in the workplace. Not only is this impacting worker wellbeing but it is also increasing the costs associated with long-term injuries and workers’ compensation. Through ergonomics—the study of how humans interact with the workspace around them—vendors have begun producing technologies that seek to mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal damage. Although many musculoskeletal technologies still are in the R&D phase, some solutions are being pilot tested or deployed in industrial settings.

Table of contents

Technologies That Reduce WRMSDs Are In Their Infancy  
Limited Selection Of Technologies Available In Today’s Market
Wearable Technologies Prioritize Reducing Pressure On The Body 

Future Technologies Will Concentrate On Workspace  
Limitations Of Present Offerings Are Hindering Their Adoption 
Future Emphasis On Adapting The Workplace Environment 

Finding Suitable Technology Through The Adoption Process

Table of figures

Figure 1. Industries Categorized By Ergonomic Risk Level
Figure 2. Three Risk-Dependent Scenarios Of Ergonomic Technology Adoption Defined By (A) People, (B) Processes And (C) Technology

About the authors

Molly Blackwell

Analyst

Molly is an analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. Her current research agenda focuses on the priorities and trends within the EHS software market, industrial wearables and operational sustainability. Previously a Research Analyst for the L&D industry, Molly holds a first-class social science degree from Lancaster University.

Steve Bolton

Research Director

Steve leads the Verdantix EHS research practice, based out of our New York office. He has 25 years of experience advising on sustainability, EHS, circular economy, corporate social responsibility and other business value topics. Steve received a dual environmental science and public policy Bachelor's degree from The College of William and Mary, a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University, and an MBA degree from James Madison University.

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