Innovative wearable simulations safeguard the occupational health of
Innovation and benefits
Building upon the success of previous simulations – the Ford Third Age Suit and the Osteoarthritis Simulation Suit developed for NAPP Pharmaceuticals and used internationally by Stannah stairlifts – the innovative Loughborough SKInS (Sensory Kinesthetic Interactive Simulations – LUSKinS) Programme extended its unique range of wearable simulations to encompass occupational health conditions.
The simulations provide the wearer with powerful insights into the impact of a range of conditions – including occupational asthma, dermatitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome dermatitis, noise-induced hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders of the lower back and knee – on both home and work life.
Providing a step-change to conventional training methods, the simulations are now used within the construction industry to promote improved occupational health by raising awareness of the challenges faced by thousands of people.
Following the success of industry funded research projects, adventure-funding was secured from EPSRC via the University’s Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre. A PhD research project explored the simulation’s contribution to learning within the construction industry. Further development and commercialisation was then undertaken via a licence with Park Health & Safety Partnership.
The Occupational Health simulations have been used in conjunction with the UK Health and Safety Executive and the National Construction College. More recently, within the Park Health and Safety Partnership licence, they have been deployed as part of the Thames Tideway project, London’s new super-sewer – the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.
Academic and institutional benefits
The collaborative nature of the work has allowed the research team to trial and refine the simulations in real settings.
The University’s reputation for world-leading expertise in the field of occupational health and in the development of wearable simulations has been enhanced by the positive response and adoption of the LUSKInS occupational health simulations.
In 2016, the research paper, Wearable simulations for ill-health conditions in construction, was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Health and Safety in Construction Medal.
The simulations now support cross-school teaching within the University’s Schools of Design and Creative Arts, and Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering – helping future designers and engineers meet the needs of older people and those with a range of physical and health conditions.