Standard Active Last Updated: Oct 13, 2021 Track Document
ASTM F3527-21

Standard Guide for Assessing Risks Related to Implementation of Exoskeletons in Task-Specific Environments

Standard Guide for Assessing Risks Related to Implementation of Exoskeletons in Task-Specific Environments F3527-21 ASTM|F3527-21|en-US Standard Guide for Assessing Risks Related to Implementation of Exoskeletons in Task-Specific Environments Standard new BOS Vol. 15.13 Committee F48
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Significance and Use

4.1 There is evidence to support use of occupational exoskeletons to support work tasks and activities. It is recognized that organizations, job responsibilities, and working contexts vary widely. Additionally, a wide array of exoskeletons are becoming available on the market. Exoskeletons vary in terms of complexity, form and mass, body coverage, and function. Certification programs for occupational exoskeletons are not available at this time. As such, at the present time no mechanisms exist to guarantee that circumstantial risk evaluation was performed on exoskeletons or whether these evaluations reflect the real working context in which exoskeletons will be implemented.

4.2 This guide provides a minimum baseline for assessing risks that may arise from exoskeleton interaction with existing and task-specific environments. The working document presented in Appendix X1 can be used to support decision making at different stages of exoskeleton implementation, such as:

4.2.1 Purchase—It can highlight safety concerns that may arise from introduction of a given exoskeleton technology in a specific work context;

4.2.2 Implementation of Risk Reduction Measures—It can highlight residual risks that require risk reduction measures;

4.2.3 Detection of Unknowns—It can lead to definition of additional steps that are needed to satisfy risk assessment for potentially hazardous situations;

4.2.4 Risk Monitoring—It can be used as a “living document” to monitor residual risks throughout the use period of the exoskeleton.

4.3 Harm scenarios described in this guide primarily reflect situations that may result in acute and observable injury or harm to a person. This guide is not suited for assessment of potential exoskeleton-to-task incompatibilities that may result in chronic, cumulative, or long-term injuries. However, these should be considered as part of any exoskeleton selection and implementation process. Guidelines on evaluation of risk factors that may lead to such injuries are currently under development and not yet published.

4.4 The user of this guide should evaluate the applicability of this guide for the given job context. The tool provided in Appendix X1 can be used as presented, can be adapted to reflect additional safety concerns, or elements of it can be used to supplement risk assessment tools existing in the enterprise where an exoskeleton is implemented.

4.5 The questions, statements, and harm scenarios provided in Appendix X1 are primarily targeted for assessment of risks that may endanger primary exoskeleton users. These can be modified to assess risks that may endanger secondary users, such as maintenance personnel, trainers, adjustment personnel, etc. It is recommended that risk assessment be conducted separately for each user type.

4.6 This guide can be used by non-specialized personnel to perform preliminary risk assessment, to aid, for example, pre-selection of exoskeleton models for purchase options. However, prior to implementing an exoskeleton in real-world working contexts, risk assessment should be conducted by personnel having the knowledge and experience appropriate to perform such assessment. This should include detailed knowledge of user tasks, ability to perform task analysis, knowledge and experience with the particular exoskeleton model, and knowledge of methods and of limitations associated to risk analysis. As such, risk assessment may require involvement of multiple stakeholders, including ergonomists and human factors specialists, users, managers, producer representatives, and safety professionals.

4.7 This guide does not supersede any established laws or regulations of international, national, federal, state, tribal, local, or regional governments.


1.1 When implementing exoskeletons in real-world work environments, exoskeleton interaction with various components of a given task and its environment can generate a number of risks. This guide provides guidance for conducting contextual risk assessment. A working document is provided in Appendix X1 to allow initiation of the risk assessment process. It can be used to describe tasks, break the tasks down into task elements, anticipate related harm scenarios (a series of typical harm scenarios are provided), assess related risks, and detect scenarios that may require further analysis or implementation of risk reduction measures.

1.2 This guide applies to exoskeletons administered by employers to paid workers or professionals to support work-related tasks and activities.

1.3 This guide addresses risks that may result in acute and observable injury and harm. This guide does not address the following topics and concerns related to exoskeleton use:

1.3.1 Assessment and prevention of risk factors that can lead to chronic, cumulative, or long-term injuries;

1.3.2 Use of exoskeletons to support rehabilitation and return to work;

1.3.3 Risks related to storage and use of personal information;

1.3.4 Risks that may result in damage of objects; and

1.3.5 Financial risks.

1.4 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 15.13
Developed by Subcommittee: F48.02
Pages: 26
DOI: 10.1520/F3527-21
ICS Code: 25.040.30