Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

Definition - What does Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) mean?

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) tool is used to identify ergonomic risk factors associated with upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include injuries or pain in joints, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The RULA tool measures the amount of risk among workers due to the constant exposure to postures and muscle activities that have been shown to contribute to strain injuries. This assessment requires evaluation of scores between one and seven, where a lower score means no action is required and a higher score means an immediate action is required.

Safeopedia explains Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

Bodily regions assessed by the RULA include the upper arms, wrist, neck, forearms, legs, and torso. Scores for each region are added to measure the total MSD risk. If it is between one and two, the risk is negligible. If it is between three and four, the risk is low and slight changes may be suggested. If it is between five and six, the risk is medium and changes will soon be implemented. If the score is beyond six, changes are implemented immediately to keep the MSD risk from being exacerbated.

After interviewing a worker, the RULA tool is used regarding the job itself, the worker's posture, and any other bodily movements. The RULA takes into account the most difficult postures, the posture sustained for the longest period, and the areas where high force can cause a strain in a nerve. Furthermore, an evaluator determines from the interview whether the left side, right side, or both sides need to be evaluated.

The RULA is applied to many workers who perform repetitive work activities such as pouring additives, latex, and color paste, filling the cans, putting the lids on, lifting sealed boxes, and the like. These activities cause severe stiffness in muscles, which may result in bone and muscle breakage. This risk can be mitigated if a supervisor is appointed to check that all tasks are carried out with an adequate posture.

An inadequate posture and incorrect lifting techniques cause extreme force on ligaments and muscles, resulting in swelling and pain. All workers must be trained in how they can maintain the correct posture to perform an action. Workers should be encouraged to utilize any idle time to perform stretches so that muscles and joints do not become stiff.

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