Purpose: Exoskeletons are moving into industries with the potential to reduce muscle strains and prevent occupational injuries. Although exoskeletons have been designed and tested in laboratory settings, rare empirical studies of their application in construction have been reported. Therefore, the purpose of this study is on in a real-life setting testing the applicability of adopting exoskeletons in the construction industry. Design/methodology/approach: A feasibility study of exoskeletons in construction is conducted by testing a passive exoskeleton, designed for shoulder support. Five bricklayers tested in a two-month period the exoskeleton, each wearing it for a three-day period while carrying out normal work activities. Test data in terms of interviews were collected and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Findings: The application of exoskeletons in construction revealed several limitations, where the two primary ones are the exoskeleton is not designed while considering the tasks of a bricklayer causing several challenges and the exoskeleton only supports a single upward motion while limiting other movements and even counteracted when a downward movement was necessary. Originality/value: The identified challenges could easily have been revealed by coupling the design and testing of exoskeletons to actual application. Thus, the design approach needs to be reversed. Instead of designing an exoskeleton to support a specific body part or motion and then identifying where it is applicable, it should target specific industries and focus on the actual work and movements and the necessary support. As part of the change, the design metrics should be reevaluated to reflect the work to support.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Innovation
Number of pages19
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2023


  • Exoskeleton design
  • Exoskeleton usability and acceptance
  • Field assessment
  • Industrial exoskeletons
  • Working condition improvement


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