Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Safety and Health Engineering - (M.S.)


Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Arijit K. Sengupta

Second Advisor

Athanassios K. Bladikas

Third Advisor

Samuel Lieber


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for a large portion of all work-related injuries according to OSHA. Back and shoulder-related disorders make the most of work-related MSDs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Exoskeletons emerged in recent years with the potential to reduce the risks of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Their use in occupational settings is increasing, and exoskeleton designs are rapidly evolving. This paper reviewed recent scientific articles (2015 and after) that evaluated back and shoulder-support passive industrial exoskeletons. The findings of these articles are summarized and analyzed to assess the benefits of passive upper-body exoskeletons by identifying agreements and disagreements through these articles. Seven BSEs (back support exoskeleton) through 16 articles and eight SSEs (shoulder support exoskeleton) through 14 articles are reviewed.

It is concluded through these articles that passive upper body exoskeletons can provide benefits with selected short-term manual handling tasks in industry settings. The benefits are more pronounced with quantitative assessments. Scientific studies aim to gather further data such as metabolic cost, oxygen consumption, and heart rate along with muscle load assessments to present clearer and more complete results. However, there is not enough data through the recent articles to make any clear conclusions about exoskeletons’ benefits in real-life working conditions for long term uses. Benefits can change with the design and task dramatically. However, none of these exoskeletons have presented a clear superiority to each other in these studies. Specifics of tasks and conditions should be considered to determine the most suitable exoskeleton.



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