The challenges of integrating a DAP

Once the diagnosis has been carried out by the ergonomist, he or she is able to present recommendations in line with the needs formulated. The recommendations are closely linked to the work activity studied. It is through the study of the actual activity, exchanges with the operators and the framing of the intervention that the ergonomist will be able to propose relevant and feasible recommendations.

The PAD (Physical Assistance Device) can be part of these recommendations, without being systematic since the recommendations, as indicated above, must be adapted to the activity under study. Let us now discuss the issues involved in integrating a PAD within an organisation.

For an optimal, effective and efficient integration, several aspects have to be taken into consideration.

Be sure to target the type of muscles/muscle groups you wish to assist with a DAP. Indeed, assistance of the « arm » is not enough to define the type of DAP to be put in place, there are many types of movements possible with the upper limbs, and an even greater combination of movements. This is why the diagnosis makes it possible to highlight the tasks that require movements that may be painful for the operators, which will become the movements that may require the implementation of an exoskeleton.

As a new technology, the exoskeleton is a source of imagination and preconceived ideas. We often imagine a device that is sometimes robotic, sometimes on the whole body, making movements involuntary and allowing to carry 50kg without feeling anything. It is therefore very important to provide information and training on what an exoskeleton is, what it looks like, and what we are trying to put in place, in order to reassure users, but also to integrate them into this process of co-designing a DAP around a work activity.

In the same way as a construction helmet, the exoskeleton is added to the body schema, i.e. it will transform the sensations linked to movements, add an extra thickness to the body, etc. The role of the ergonomist in this integration is to accompany the user in his handling, in particular by making him aware of the health issues that may arise; a good adjustment will lead to « good use » whereas a bad adjustment may create new constraints.

The points mentioned above are obviously not exhaustive; other more specific points may arise from the ergonomist’s diagnosis, when the study of the complexity of work situations is more in-depth.