Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

Neck and upper back pains are often attributed to poor posture. For most people, how do we tell if our posture needs attention? Thankfully there is a simple test you check yourself off.

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment
Image: flicker corey

Dr Lynn McAtamney and Professor E. Nigel Corlett, ergonomists at the University of Nottingham in England, developed the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) method. RULA is a postural targeting method for estimating the risks of work-related upper limb disorders. A RULA assessment gives a quick and systematic assessment of the postural risks to a worker. The analysis can be conducted before and after an intervention. This is to demonstrate that the intervention has worked to lower the risk of injury.

A good online version of the test by the Osmond Group in the UK is available here.

The results of the test is a Rapid Upper Limb Assessment score. It gives you a fair idea of where you stand with your posture.

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment Levels

The Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) action levels gives the urgency about the need to change how a person is working. It works as a function of the degree of injury risk.

  1. Action Level 1 – RULA score 1-2 means that the person is working in the best posture. There is no risk of injury from their work posture.
  2. Action Level 2 – RULA score 3-4 means that the person is working in a posture that could present some risk of injury from their work posture. This score most likely is the result of one part of the body being in a deviated and awkward position. Investigate the reasons and correct.
  3. Action Level 3 – RULA score 5-6 means that the person is working in a poor posture with a risk of injury from their work posture. Investigate the reasons and change them in the near future to prevent an injury.
  4. Action Level 4 – RULA score 7-8 means that the person is working in the worst posture with an immediate risk of injury from their work posture. Investigate the reasons and change them in the near future to prevent an injury.

Reference

  1. McAtamney, L. & Corlett, E.N. (1993) RULA: a survey method for the investigation of work-related upper limb disorders, Applied Ergonomics, 24, 91-99.