Standard Active Last Updated: Mar 07, 2024 Track Document
ASTM F3579-24

Standard Practice for Considering and Deploying Exoskeletons for Return to Work

Standard Practice for Considering and Deploying Exoskeletons for Return to Work F3579-24 ASTM|F3579-24|en-US Standard Practice for Considering and Deploying Exoskeletons for Return to Work Standard new BOS Vol. 15.13 Committee F48
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ASTM International

Significance and Use

4.1 The current state of research provides limited evidence to directly support the use of exoskeletons by injured workers for Return to Work (RTW). However, there is research to support using certain exoskeletons to reduce strain and fatigue, as well as improve productivity and work quality. Reductions in strain and fatigue can reduce the risk for injury. To date, the best conclusion is that there is a potential opportunity for exoskeletons to help injured workers RTW, but precise outcomes may be unpredictable at this time. Professional management by a multidisciplinary team (see 5.8) of the following process is recommended. This practice is intended to serve as an example of a potential process that can be used when an exoskeleton is indicated for appropriate workers seeking to RTW. The first step is to consider the criteria in Section 5. If the criteria are met, use the procedure in Section 6 for managing the use of exoskeletons by injured workers for RTW.


1.1 The purpose of this practice is to discuss the potential benefits and risks of exoskeletons when used by workers during the Return to Work (RTW) process following an injury or illness, and to provide guidance to anyone considering their use during the modified/transitional duty period. The primary objectives of any exoskeleton used in a RTW capacity are to facilitate the natural healing process, prevent an exacerbation of an existing injury or illness, prevent further injuries or illnesses from developing, reduce the number of modified/transitional duty days, reduce the number of visits to healthcare providers for medical treatments, and assist the worker with return to full duty without restrictions. The exoskeleton must not aggravate the original injury or illness, nor cause a secondary injury or illness. Successful RTW constitutes an injured worker’s ability to tolerate all of the demands of his/her job without reinjury, perform essential job functions, or return to work as per the decisions and directions of the worker’s physician and employer. In some cases, workers may continue to use the exoskeletons after full duty RTW for risk reduction, injury prevention, or to continue to perform essential job functions. Exoskeleton usage that continues beyond full duty RTW for these purposes is beyond the scope of this particular standard practice.

1.2 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.

1.3 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: 4
DOI: 10.1520/F3579-24