Swissport wearable exoskeleton wins award

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Swissport has secured the “Innovator Award 2019” at the IATA Ground Handling Conference in Madrid today, for its role in developing the “LiftSuit”.

The LiftSuit is a wearable exoskeleton designed to help prevent musculoskeletal injuries in baggage handlers, who, it is estimated, lift an average of 5 tonnes of baggage per day, often in awkward positions inside an aircraft hold.

With a group of ground handling staff and Auxivo, a specialist in the development of wearable exoskeletons, Swissport has been developing the LiftSuit over the past year, with several prototypes tested across various Swissport locations.

Elastic elements allow the LiftSuit to store energy when a worker bends down; energy which is then released to support the workers when they pull the load back up to a standing position. Laboratory results have shown that different muscle groups will benefit from a 10-30% reduction in activity while wearing the LiftSuit, leading to decreased muscle fatigue, which in turn minimises the risk of injury.

Alexandre Bolay, Vice President Global Quality, Health & Safety at Swissport International, said: “Injuries that occur during manual handling of heavy objects are a major concern for us. We are very pleased with the results of the new gear and the IATA recognition of Swissport as an industry leader in employee well-being. The LiftSuit is a fairly simple, yet effective way to support and protect our workers.”

The initiative is part of a global innovation program which was launched two years ago. Swissport is exploring other ways to improve manual handling safety, with a team in Melbourne currently testing a wearable device that measures body movements and quantifies the risk based on displacement frequencies and force. The device is fitted with an alarm, which can alert the wearer if they make a high-risk movement.

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