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Making construction safer with AI

The research also shows that artificial intelligence can not only provide new insights to help reduce wear-and-tear injuries, it can also help to boost the productivity of skilled construction workers. These findings come from research conducted at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and they are important given the extent of injuries recorded each year for construction workers.

The research specifically focuses on bricklaying.. Here the researchers examined several studies which looked at how motion sensors and artificial intelligence software can help to improve the techniques of bricklayers. Some of the methods were previously unidentified, even for the most experience construction workers. The findings have been used to develop alternate techniques for workers to help limit the loads on their joints.

To gain the necessary information for the researchers, workers were asked to wear sensor suits when performing different wall construction tasks. The data was then processed by an artificial intelligence platform.

According to lead researcher Professor Carl Haas, who said in a research note: “The people in skilled trades learn or acquire a kind of physical wisdom that they can’t even articulate”, adding “It’s pretty amazing and pretty important.”

The new ergonomic rules developed include the need for more swinging than lifting of blocks and less bending of the backs of workers carrying out the bricklaying task.

The information gained from the study is now being passed on to apprentices in training programs in order to reduce musculoskeletal injuries. The research has been published in the journal Automation in Construction and the peer reviewed paper is titled “Identifying poses of safe and productive masons using machine learning.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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