Artificial intelligence (AI) is giving researchers at the University of Waterloo new insights to help reduce wear-and-tear injuries and boost the productivity of skilled construction workers.
Studies using motion sensors and AI software have revealed expert bricklayers use previously unidentified techniques to limit the loads on their joints, knowledge that can now be passed on to apprentices in training programs. This represents another important contribution engineers can make to improving worker health and safety, like this project to create haptic gloves for repetitive strain injuries.
“The people in skilled trades learn or acquire a kind of physical wisdom that they can’t even articulate,” said Carl Haas, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Waterloo. “It’s pretty amazing and pretty important.”
Surprisingly, the research shows master masons don’t follow the standard ergonomic rules taught to novices. Instead, they develop their own ways of working quickly and safely.
Examples include more swinging than lifting of blocks and less bending of their backs.