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Training with virtual technology can increase workplace safety

Have you ever seen a movie in which an astronaut is practicing flying a space craft on some sort of virtual simulation? Or a pilot is practicing landing a flight in treacherous conditions with a similarly animated program? One company asked why this type of virtual reality technology was only used to increase workplace safety of a very select number of occupations. Then, with a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they set out to change that.

One of the cofounders of the company says of applying this technology to training around commonly used heavy machinery by employees in Maryland and across the nation, "Until recently, such virtual reality technologies were only available to military and university laboratories. By pioneering the use of gaming technology and computers in our software, we are able to offer the 3D forklift simulator at a low and reasonable cost for industrial safety training."

For workers in Maryland that operate forklifts, most training is done in a manner that is more watching and learning. This can be risky when it comes time for the employee to really start using the forklift. However, with a more interactive training method, using virtual technologies, scores of construction workers and industrial workers in Maryland would be working in safer environments in which both they and their coworkers were better equipped to operate potentially-dangerous machinery.

It is unfortunate that most employers in Maryland do not take this same solution-oriented approach toward workplace safety. For most employers, it is more of a cost-oriented approach, meaning they skip safety to increase profits. If a worker is injured on the job because of a lapse in safety, they could have a legitimate claim for workers' compensation benefits.

Source:, "Virtual Reality Training Program Created for Forklift Operators," Mar. 11, 2013

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