Mining Contract: Mine Safety Data Analytics Engine (MSDAE)

Contract # 75D30121C11582
Start Date 9/1/2021
Research Concept

This contract will address work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) risk reduction using a recent innovative intervention: occupational exoskeletons.

Contract Status & Impact

This contract is ongoing. For more information on this contract, send a request to

Exoskeletons are wearable systems that can assist, support, or augment the wearer during various physical activities. Existing evidence supports that use of an exoskeleton is a promising approach to control WMSD risk and improve work performance for several occupational tasks. This is particularly the case for passive exoskeletons (with no electrical power source), which are more mature than emerging powered exoskeletons. At present, though, there is no evidence specific to the mining industry. We aim to identify opportunities and barriers to exoskeleton adoption, complete task-specific evaluations of exoskeleton efficacy, and provide guidance regarding exoskeleton implementation strategies, with a long-term goal of advancing exoskeletons in mining to prevent WMSDs. The Mine Safety Data Analytics Engine (MSDAE) is a proposed software system that will be developed to collect, parse, measure, analyze, and present big data at mine sites as useful information to mine personnel.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) of the back and the upper extremities are an important problem in surface mining, for which new, effective intervention methods are needed. Our long-term goal is to support the safe and effective adoption and use of exoskeletons to control WMSD risks in mining, by developing practical exoskeleton implementation strategies and guidelines. Our immediate goal in this application is to develop an initial, practical knowledge base to enable the safe adoption and effective use of passive exoskeletons for selected manual tasks in surface mining.

The work proposed here supports the primary goal of the MINER Act technology mandate, to “improve /increase the use of technology in mines to improve mining worker and health.” Specifically, the proposed work will provide evidence to: 1) demonstrate the potential for EXO technology to improve safety and/or health of mining workers; 2) reveal potential barriers to EXO application in a mining environment, and guide the implementation of EXOs while considering such barriers; and 3) establish the efficacy of EXO technology based on in-mine testing.

Page last reviewed: 1/13/2022 Page last updated: 1/13/2022