This series profiles people whose ideas have the power to transform the workplace. Several are company leaders who have put their ideas into practice. Others are thought leaders influencing the way we work. Each new part will post on Tuesdays. Links to previous articles are at the end of this post. This series originally appeared on the OpenWork blog.
Brooklyn-based manufacturing firm StrongArm Technologies has made it their mission to eliminate workplace back injuries once and for all.
Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Mike Kim worked directly with people who lift for a living — workers StrongArm calls “industrial athletes” — to design a product that would help them distribute weight onto their hips, protecting them from the kind of back pain and injury that can end a career. The result was the V22 Ergoskeleton, a futuristic-looking rig which fits snugly around the worker’s body, allowing full range of motion while providing for a 41% reduction in stress and fatigue.
“We built the device that the [industry] told us they wanted,” Kim said in an interview with Engineers Rule. “With the V22, you have a full range of motion when you are not lifting something.
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“But as soon as you place your hands under an object, you will engage the clutches and the load will be transferred away from your hands, into the cords, over the shoulders down the spine and to your waist. This will give you the compression where you need it and shift that load away from your hands.”
According to Kim, 60% of all workers’ compensation claims relate to back injuries, costing the industry over $30 billion a year. The V22 guides a worker into the correct OSHA lifting posture, making even the heaviest load feel manageable — and letting manufacturing workers stay on the job longer and stronger.