Identifying an Optimal Sampling Method to Estimate Postural Risk in a Dynamic Work Task
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Identifying an Optimal Sampling Method to Estimate Postural Risk in a Dynamic Work Task

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    Proc Hum Factors Ergon Soc Annu Meet. 63(2):1028-1033
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    Proc Hum Factors Ergon Soc Annu Meet
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    Introduction: The Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) is an ergonomic assessment tool used to screen for risk of musculoskeletal injury due to working posture. The RULA is traditionally applied once during a work task to approximate overall risk. No method exists for estimating a RULA score for work requiring frequent shifts in posture across an extended period of time. Purpose: The goal of this study was to identify an optimal sampling method for applying the RULA across a long time-period that accurately represents overall risk. Methods: Four right-handed female dental hygiene students were video recorded from three angles while performing hand scaling during patient clinic visits (88.97 minutes on average). RULA was continuously scored across the entire session, updating the score when a significant postural shift lasting for more than 15 seconds occurred. A time-weighted average (TWA) RULA score was calculated. Three sampling methods were evaluated: equivalent interval samples, random samples, and random samples selection weighted within “clock positions.” Each method was compared to the TWA using a paired samples t-test and percent difference. Results: TWA RULA across the four students ranged from 3.4 to 4.3. Preliminary sampling averages using 10 samples were all within 0.2 of the TWA. Further iterations evaluating various sample sizes is ongoing. Discussion: Preliminary results suggest that all three sampling methods provide a reasonably accurate approximation of the TWA score at the sampling rate tested. Future iterations of this analysis will be continued to identify the minimum required sampling rate to meet our TWA criterion.
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