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Machines can help improve production efficiency in the workplace. However, their moving parts, sharp edges, and hot surfaces can also cause serious workplace injuries such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential to protect workers from injury. Any machine part, function, or process that might cause injury should be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine may result in a contact injury to the operator or others in the area, the hazard should be removed or controlled.

NIOSH is home to two labs for machine safety research. Continue reading to learn more about their capabilities.

High Bay Laboratory

	collage of images from high bay lab at NIOSHContaining a 37-foot-high ceiling with an overhead catwalk, the NIOSH High Bay Laboratory is dedicated to research efforts in reducing fall-related injuries and improving the safety of large equipment used in industrial, construction, and agricultural applications. Test equipment includes a 5-ton bridge crane, a test bed, an MTS hydraulic power supply and actuator system, and a research manikin.

The laboratory, which was developed in 1995, has been used for projects related to improving:

  • scaffolding stability
  • ladder safety
  • design of tractor rollover protective structures
  • tension/compression testing of fabricated protective structures
  • ingress/egress safety for construction equipment.

Facts about our test equipment:

  • The hydraulic actuators can produce up to 20,000 pounds of force.
  • The Advanced Dynamic Anthropomorphic Manikin (ADAM) is representative of a 95th percentile Air Force male. ADAM contains a sophisticated and ruggedized onboard data acquisition system, joint sensors, three tri-axial accelerometers (located in the head, chest, and lower torso), and two load cells (located at the neck and lower spine). ADAM has been used in a series of tests on the biodynamic forces that protective equipment and the human body would experience during free-fall and rapid deceleration while wearing fall-restraint equipment.
  • Equipped with protective rails, a catwalk provides a mechanism for studying human perception and responses at heights.

Safety Engineering Laboratory

	collage of images from safety engineering lab at NIOSHThe Safety Engineering Laboratory is the focal point for testing instrumentation and study procedures for field-based safety engineering studies. It consists of several pieces of equipment used for cab design and reverse engineering. Two FARO arms (6-foot and 8-foot) along with two test bucks (one to simulate a long-haul truck cab, the other to simulate a fire engine cab) measure cab accommodation for individual subjects. Both test bucks have all major cab operational components, including the clutch, brake, accelerator, gear shift, steering wheel, side-view mirrors, and driver’s seat – all of which can be adjusted to fit a specific subject.

Previously tested study procedures include:

  • paper baler jam alert system testing
  • field testing of farm tractor roll-over protective volume

Program contact: Hongwei Hsiao, Ph.D.
Protective Technology Branch
(304) 285-5910