Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. James P. Dickey


Forklift operators must adopt awkward postures in order to gain appropriate lines of sight; these postures are associated with musculoskeletal injuries and disorders such as low back pain and neck pain. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the similarity in postures between forklift operators in virtual reality simulation of forklift loading and unloading operations and a corresponding real world workplace. This evaluation will help determine whether the virtual reality system is a useful tool for performing controlled laboratory-based investigations of ergonomics issues in heavy mobile machinery. One certified forklift operator and one uncertified individual performed two cycles of the loading and unloading tasks in the virtual reality environment. Video images of the participant’s postures in the virtual reality simulation quantified the neck and trunk postures as neutral, moderate or awkward. Published data from a warehousing operation were used for comparison. The results showed general agreement between the postures adopted by the participants in the simulation and the field; however, there were significant differences in the durations that specific postures were adopted. These preliminary findings suggest promise; further development of the system is necessary to use it as a tool for ergonomic analysis of workplace mobile machinery.

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Biomechanics Commons