Tactus Technologies has developed a first-of-its-kind virtual reality training program for forklift operators, a product that company officials expect will reduce work-related injuries and deaths.
The program, called the 3D Forklift Trainer, allows operators to practice with a video game-like system that features a steering wheel, joystick, pedals and simulated environments such as warehouses, elevators and railroad tracks.
The simulator arose from a need to improve operator readiness, said Jim Mayrose, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tactus, which is a spinoff company from the University at Buffalo.
According to Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) standards, improper forklift operations cause roughly 100 fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries annually in the United States.
Created with a grant from the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health, the simulator incorporates safety lessons aligned with OSHA standards.
Lesson plans require reacting to safety challenges – such as ramps, elevators and people – that reinforce the use of correct techniques. Personal profiles track trainee progress and evaluate performance. On average, it takes three to four hours to complete the simulator program.