Research Laboratories

Collage of Construction workers performing different jobsVirtual Reality Laboratory

collage of images from virtual reality lab at NIOSHThe Virtual Reality Laboratory contains a virtual-reality simulation space, which is a computer-generated projection that gives a user the illusion of being fully immersed in a three-dimensional world. At present, this 28x35x14-foot laboratory is being utilized to understand human behavior, physical response, and decision-making skills under simulated conditions of elevated work. Findings are validated and compared with measurements taken under non-simulated work conditions. In addition, investigations of fall-risk factors, injury processes, and fall prevention are being conducted. The Virtual Reality Laboratory is equipped with four projectors and four screens (three walls and one floor), an image generator, a position tracking system, and stereo eyewear. The projectors and image generator function as an integrated system, controlling the projected images as well as the software application. The motion-tracking system continuously adjusts the stereo projection to the current position of the user, tracking the subject’s position and updating the stereo projection in real time to that position. The stereo eyewear is integral to the 3D experience, creating the illusion of depth so that the user can walk through the surrounding virtual environment, experiencing for example the sights and sensation of elevation. In addition to the virtual-reality simulation space system, the Virtual Reality Laboratory is equipped with the following scientific equipment and software for measuring human movement and forces: (1) Vicon MX3, an advanced 6-camera 3D motion analysis system; (2) Visual3D, an advanced 3D motion analysis software that provides maximum flexibility for managing, analyzing, and reporting motion data, and (3) MaxMate and MaxTRAQ software packages, which have the unique capability of performing motion tracking with multiple video sources with or without the use of markers, and (4) AMTI and Bertec force platforms that can capture the forces and moments induced at the workers’ feet during task performance.

Human Factors Laboratory

collage of images from human factors lab at NIOSHThe Human Factors Laboratory is a unique facility for research in the areas of biomechanics, ergonomics, applied physiology, and industrial psychology. The 30×40- foot laboratory has a 17-foot-high ceiling to permit the study of a variety of work practices. The laboratory supports studies of postural stability, human motor responses, machine safety, musculoskeletal injuries, and heat stress evaluations. This laboratory is equipped with the following core systems: a unique gantry system, an environmental control unit (ECU), a Vicon motion measurement system, and two Kistler force platforms. Various physical signal measurement devices are also available. The gantry system provides adjustable and unobtrusive fall protection anchoring throughout the whole lab space. The ECU can control temperature and lighting with a high degree of precision; temperature can be controlled in a range of 35° F to 95° F, 30% to 90% relative humidity, and 4.1- to 100-foot candles lighting. The Vicon motion measurement system uses six state-of-the-art high-speed and high-resolution T10 cameras, which are connected with an MX Giganet core unit to a PC for motion data collection. The system is controlled by the Vicon NEXUS software which can objectively collect, quantify, and document motion in 2D and 3D space. The NEXUS software automatically calculates body-position velocities and accelerations and when integrated with data from force platforms can be used to calculate body joint forces. The two Kistler force platforms are used to capture data such as the amount of forces and moments at the worker’s feet during walking, as well as the amount of sway in a worker’s standing posture as a predictor of stability and fall potential. These platforms rest on a concrete pad, positioned flush with the floor surface so that the plate surface is level with the floor surface. The supporting pad is isolated from the rest of the floor to reduce the effects of building vibration.

High Bay Laboratory

collage of images from high bay lab at NIOSHThis laboratory is a specially constructed facility with elevated (37 feet) ceilings and an overhead catwalk, and is dedicated to research efforts in reducing fall-related injuries, as well as in improving the safety of large equipment used in industrial, construction, and agricultural applications. The lab is equipped with a 5 ton overhead bridge crane and a 24,000 lb test bed with a dual-axes (2 x 20,000 lb) MTS system. The overall dimensions of the laboratory are 30 by 36 by 37 feet, sufficient for accommodating such research efforts as studies of scaffolding systems, ladder stability, tension/compression testing of fabricated protective structures, and access/egress safety for construction equipment.

Anthropometry Research Laboratory

A fleet of whole body scanners, head scanners, hand scanners, FaroArm and traditional anthropometry measurement equipment have been used by the NIOSH Anthropometry Researchers for various equipment safety evaluation and design applications. Additional information is available on the Anthropometry website.

Page last reviewed: June 24, 2014