Why a robotic bricklayer will reduce workplace health and safety issues

Have you ever tried to lay a brick in your life? Let me walk you through it. Basically, a labourer stacks the bricks for you near where you are about to lay them. You twist your body around, and take a few steps to grab a brick, which is heavy. You then twist your body back, and you sit the brick on top of the brick below it and just the right distance from the one beside.

It has to be perfect otherwise quite frankly you are not doing your job.

Bricklayers are hard working men. Few women take on this role due to the affects it has on your health.

The consistently energetic load where you need to lay a required number of bricks per day, pressure on the lower back, repetitive force exertions of the upper extremities and frequent bending – are all part of the affect being a bricklayer has on the body.

From a health issues perspective, it is much worse. Bricklayers are at an increased risk of having lung cancer, lower back pain, complaints to do with arms and legs and injuries.

It is a career that many people over the age of 40 years have had to endure since they were young, due to the fact that bricks still need to be laid and they have not been able to gain other skills in the meantime.

Then comes in the bricklaying robot. Not only can robots lay 3,000 bricks per day as opposed to the average bricklayer of 500 per day, they quite simply work faster and harder. In the UK and US markets, robots are already replacing bricklayers in the droves and there is a health reason why this change must occur. However, the bricklayers need to be retrained in managing the robots and other construction jobs so that they are not displaced.

After all, a bricklaying robots are hard to compete with, but human decency says that this is one industry whereby the bricklayers have quite often been doing it for their entire life and have not had the opportunity to gain new skills.

Where is the line in the sand? My thoughts are that bricklayers should be retrained instead of replacing them to manage construction robots, or given alternative career choices that keeps them in the same pay grade and helps develop their skills. What are your thoughts?


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