Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. James P. Dickey


Operators of forklifts and other heavy machinery are exposed to whole-body vibration as a result of their daily work routine. Lower-back pain and other health risks have been linked to whole-body vibration exposure. A virtual reality simulator has been developed as a tool to study the effects of whole-body vibration and other risk factors associated with forklift operation. This study aims to demonstrate that the vibration exposure during simulation can be adjusted, and to compare the chassis accelerations to those of a real forklift. A sensitivity analysis examined three key parameters to determine their effect on the vibration properties of the simulator chassis. A comparison of field chassis accelerations during a standard work task revealed that the simulator better replicated accelerations for events involving transient surface irregularities, but the simulator had smaller vibrations when traveling across the relatively smooth warehouse floor. The simulator in its current state is a functional tool for evaluating the ergonomics of forklifts; however, further adjustment is required before the system can be considered a viable platform for whole-body vibration research.