Korean J Prev Med.  1999 Feb;32(1):48-59.

The Relation Between Work-Related Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Rapid Upper Limb Assessment(RULA) among Vehicle Assembly Workers

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Institute for Environmental Health, College of Medicine, Korea University.


This study was conducted to evaluate the association between upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms and Rapid Upper Limb Assessment(RULA) in vehicle assembly line workers. The goal of this study is to show the feasibility of RULA as a checklist for work related musculoskeletal symptoms (WMSDs) in Korean workers.
The total number of 199 people from the department of assembly and 115 people from the department of Quality Control(QC) in automotive plant were subjects for this cross sectional study. A standard symptom questionnaire survey has been used for the individual characteristics, work history, musculosketal symptoms and non-occupational covariates. The data were obtained by applying one-on-one interview for the all subjects. RULA has been applied for ergonomic work posture analysis and the primary ergonomic risk score was computed by RULA method. Association between upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms and RULA were assessed by multiple logistic regression analysis.
A total of 314 workers was examined. The prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms by NIOSH case definition was 62.4%. The distribution of musculoskeletal symptoms by the part of the body turned out to be following; back:41.4%, neck: 32.8%, shoulder: 26.4%, arm: 10.5% and hand:29.3%. The relationship of the individual RULA scores were statistically significant for the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms. As the result of the multiple logistic regressioin analysis, grand final score (OR=2.250 95% CI: 1.402-3.612) was associated with musculoskeletal symptoms in any part of the body.; upper arm score(OR=1.786 95% CI: 1.036-3.079) and posture score A(OR=1.634 95% CI: 1.016-2.626) in neck; muscel use score(OR=3.076 95% CI:1.782-5.310) and posture score A(OR=1.798 95% CI: 1.072-3.017) in shoulder; upper arm score(OR=1.715 95% CI: 1.083-2.715) and muscel use score(OR=2.057 95% CI:1.303-3.248) in neck & shoulder; muscle use score(OR=10.662 95% CI: 3.180-35.742) in arm; writst/twist score(OR=2.068 95% CI: 1.130-3.786) and muscle use score(OR=2.215 95% CI: 1.284-3.819) in hand & wrist.; muscle use score of trunk (OR=2.601 95% CI: 1.147-5.901) in back.
Musculoskeletal symptoms of the upper extremities were strongly associated with individual RULA body score. These results show that RULA can be used as a useful assessment tool for the evaluation of musculoskeletal loading which is known to contribute to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. RULA also can be used as a screening tool or incorporated into a wider ergonomic assessment of epidemiological, physical, mental, environmental and organizational factors. As shown in this study, complement of the analysis system for the other risk factors and characterizing between the upper limb and back part will be needed for future work.


WMSD; RSI; CTD; RULA; ergonomic

MeSH Terms

Complement System Proteins
Logistic Models
Mass Screening
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (U.S.)
Surveys and Questionnaires
Risk Factors
Upper Extremity*
Complement System Proteins
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