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ISSN : 1598-7248 (Print)
ISSN : 2234-6473 (Online)
Industrial Engineering & Management Systems Vol.19 No.4 pp.790-802

Comparison of RULA and Checklist OCRA Ergonomic Risk Methods for Civil Construction

Juliano Prado Stradioto*, Ariel Orlei Michaloski, Antonio Augusto de Paula Xavier, Daniela Colombini*
Graduate Program in Production Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná, Ponta Grossa, Brazil
EPM IES (EPM International Ergonomics School), Milan, Italy
*Corresponding Author, E-mail:
February 26, 2020 June 24, 2020 October 6, 2020


The external plastering has a high rate of work accidents and corresponds to a large part of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) in construction. The objective of this research was to statistically correlate the RULA and OCRA Checklist ergonomic risk methods, used in external workstations on building facades. The methodological approach consisted of a quantitative and qualitative research, including literature review and field research, including 32 employees, with the project approved by the Institution’s Ethics and Research Committee. This research showed results that indicate the high physical requirements that the activity exerts on workers, a strong and significant statistical correlation between the methods, and that the OCRA checklist method is the best option among those for the ergonomic evaluation. The research showed limitations regarding the amount of ergonomic methods used as well as the difficult access to construction sites. The research leaves the possibility of future studies on the statistical comparison between other ergonomic methods, using a greater number of statistical tools, in addition to analyzing other activities that make up the execution of building work in civil construction.



    Faced with a complex panorama in society and in a corporate world where economic and social phenomena of global scope are responsible for business environment transformations, ergonomics in the safety and occupational health context is a requirement to improve health, safety and comfort of people beyond human productivity and the productive system.

    In this sense (West et al., 2016) report that construction workers have a high risk to develop work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD) and spend more time at work developing their labor activities than workers in other industrial areas in general. In turn (Chan et al., 2016) state that the WRMD scenario is caused by high-risk activities and by the complex nature construction, thus hindering the confrontation of these risks.

    In this context, physical exertion, such as carrying heavy materials or tools, arched postures for a long period of time and equipment vibration, even with the dynamic nature of the activities inside a construction site, requires innovation of managers’ interventions to decrease the high risk to many physical exposures that may affect the health of workers (Schwatka et al., 2012).

    According to (Dick et al., 2015), construction workers are highly susceptible to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs). Symptoms in the lower back prevail varying from 7 to 30% and above 50% in the upper limbs (Wu et al., 2012).

    The repetitive use of smaller muscles and the adop- tion of non-neutral positions, in addition to the prolonged exposure to repetitive movements, can lead to the development of WRMDs (O’Sullivan et al., 2012). Through procedures and methods to assess the musculoskeletal load, parameters related to biomechanical factors are analyzed, that is, the force exerted and the posture in sequences of time (Ziaei et al., 2016).

    Musculoskeletal disorders are frequently found in most industrial occupations and sectors, especially in construction, since, in this sector, workers engage in continuous and heavy physical exertion during their labor activities, with critical physical and financial consequences for workers and companies being private or public (Gómez-Galán et al., 2017).

    Thus, WRMDs can be defined as “muscle, tendons, joints and nerve lesions caused or aggravated by work.” These lesions occur mainly in workers involved in the transport of heavy loads, kneeling, contact stress, vibrations, extreme temperatures and hand and wrist twisting, which are typical construction activities (Ray and Teizer, 2012).

    Such disturbs are considered the most common among construction workers for their continuous exposure to different labor risks is the leader in the appearance of several disorders, which can be classified in two groups: cumulative (upper and lower limbs) and lumbar spine injuries, and, among these lesions, lumbar injuries and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) are the most frequent injuries (Kincl et al., 2016).

    According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), which conducts important researches on occupational health, it was identified that musculoskeletal disorder is one of the most common conditions related to industrial workers, emphasizing that, despite the several body parts involved during an industrial workday, the lumbar region and other superior limbs are the ones that frequently cause discomfort and pain at the end of a day’s work in services at a high height (Hsu et al., 2016).

    Also, workers at high altitudes may have difficulty to adjust physiologically when performing heavy or delicate tasks, since the climatic conditions from where they perform their labor activities, such as strong winds, thermal stress and discomfort may affect their work performance and safety when high-rise building construction is required (Hsu et al., 2008).

    Construction employs a large number of high-rise construction workers, contributing significantly to the number of work-related deaths in this type of industry. A fundamental difference for the construction sector and other industrial areas is outsourcing workforce to construct a building, for example, which also happens in other construction types, resulting in an ineffective and inconsistent health and safety management (Nath et al., 2017).

    Building construction requires hiring many workers with different specialties during several construction stages, therefore, it is quite common that workers, during building construction, sign only short contracts for a limited time, resulting in a lack of familiarity with the workplace, thus increasing the risk of disorders in this specific type of work (Dale et al., 2016).

    In this context, according to the latest researchers (David, 2005;Chiasson et al., 2012;Gómez-Galán et al., 2017;Kong et al., 2017;Joshi and Deshpande, 2019;Saraiva et al., 2019;Kee et al., 2020;Hellig et al., 2020) comparisons and evaluations were made, including RULA, REBA, OWAS and OCRA Index.

    Kee et al. (2020) developed a comparative study to measure the maximum waiting times (MHTs) for the symmetrical and asymmetric parameters of body postures and comparing to the three representative observational methods, that is, OWAS, RULA and REBA, based on the MHTs.

    On the other hand, Kong et al. (2017) carried out a comparative study between the Agricultural Lower Limb Assessment (ALLA), OWAS, RULA and REBA methods. Such comparative work counted with the participation of 16 experts in Ergonomics and as a final result, they came to the conclusion that the ALLA method is the superior method, followed by RULA.

    Moreover, these studies were not developed in civil construction, an area still with few studies published in Ergonomics available, as well as no comparison using the OCRA checklist method. Performing the statistical correlation between ergonomic analysis methods, it was shown the importance and solidity that these tools provide for researchers in the area, in addition to giving one more research option with consolidated results for choosing the most appropriate method of analysis for construction activities civil.

    The objective is to correlate the RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment) and OCRA Checklist (Occupational Repetitive Actions) ergonomic risk methods used in external building facade workstations. The results will provide the correlation between the outcomes of these methods, proving the reliability of these tools to ergonomically assess a specific construction activity in order to improve workers’ labor activities and, consequently, their quality of life, creating opportunities to future studies on this type of activity in construction sites.

    This work is the first part of a general study that encompasses several activities of the Civil Construction industry that will be carried out by the Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR) for its Post-Graduate Program in Engineering Production. Those activities have never been studied in Ergonomics area taking into consideration more specific activities that compose the scenario of a construction site.


    2.1 Ergonomic Scenario in Construction

    Construction ergonomics has a wide range of studies, since construction is characterized by delivering a type of product and by providing services strongly distinguished by division of skills and competences between different companies, some of which may be unknown to the other. According to Choi (2015), construction workers, especially those from 35-44 years old and from 45-54 years old, usually show a larger number of injuries. The age group from 35-44 present lesions on fingers, hands and wrists due to cutting or drilling objects, while the one from 45-54 usually suffer with sprains, concussions and crushing due to falls or excessive exertion while lifting objects.

    In this sense, the research by Kusmasari et al. (2019) supports the worrying scenario in the area, that the highest prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints in construction were reported in shoulders, as well as race, age, height, weight, year of experience of workers, and hours of work per day can increase the level of risk of MSDs in construction workers.

    The rotation in the work stations and the planning of the use of the workers can be a differential with the ergonomic actions to minimize the high incidence of MSDs, in addition to an efficient way to manage the workforce, providing better worker satisfaction, increased productivity and better quality of life (Hasan et al., 2019).

    A study on the ergonomic analysis of a plasterer job verified the high level of effort in the lower back and shoulders during a drywall installation, study developed by (Yuan et al., 2016). In turn (Umer et al., 2017) applied ergonomic concepts to a blacksmith who produced rebars. In their study, they addressed biomechanical factors, confirming that blacksmiths maintained the lower back region and knees bent for extended periods of time.

    The authors (Maciukiewicz et al., 2016) studied soil drilling services in the European context. In this study, the authors concluded that the lower back region was overloaded, showing the fragility of the situation to which workers are exposed.

    We observed that previous studies regarding ergonomics, even with different levels of details, emphasize the relevance of a comprehensive approach through the analysis of several ergonomic stages within the context of workers safety and health. Also, some approaches emphasize the importance of evaluating interrelations of job safety with construction and with the company’s culture, but do not mention the evaluation of high-rise construction work.

    It is notorious that studying the topic in the international scope of construction industry is evolving gradually. The refined knowledge of ergonomics in the context of workers safety and health allow that companies, through the use of good ergonomics, find more adequate prevention strategies of occupational health.

    Few studies were developed on the topic of this article, and the ones developed by (Hsu et al., 2008) stand out, addressing the effects of fatigue and physiological symptoms of high-rise building construction work, which contribute to the development of WRMDs and the lack of attention during work due to great heights.

    The same author also studied mental stress and ergonomic questions in the construction of transmission towers, demonstrating that the lumbar region, even in high altitude situations, suffers exertion overload. This indicates that there is much to be developed on the ergonomic issue of high-rise work, specifically when applying external plaster in building facades.

    2.2 Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Activity of External Plastering on Building Facades

    Physical requirements widely vary among the different occupations in a construction site. Masons and drywall installers, for example, spend most of their time working in a bent or twisted position and making repetitive hand and arm movements, while tile installers spend most of their time crouching or with bent knees (Boschman et al., 2015.)

    Construction workers must have several skills to complete their projects on time and specifications, however, these requirements demand a great number of worked hours, movement repetition and great physical effort, increasing the risk of developing WRMDs (Nath et al., 2017).

    Over the past years, arched positions and repetitive movements have grown in the construction, due to the large load of manual functions, including a lot of physical effort combined with hand tools, leading to musculoskeletal disorders in workers (Charles et al., 2018).

    The activity of external plastering on building facades is among the most ergonomically demanding activities in civil construction, involving tasks such as lifting heavy loads, rotating the body, arching positions, becoming a potential cause for WRMDs in these workers, resulting in removals, diseases and financial losses for companies (Brandt et al., 2015). WRMDs can be categorized into sprains, strains and cumulative trauma disorders (Inyang et al., 2012).

    2.3 RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment)

    According to (McAtammey and Corlett, 1993) the RULA is an observational method of jobs. Thus, the objective is to identify the effort associated with the work posture assumed in performing static or repetitive activities that can contribute to muscle fatigue. In addition, the application of RULA and the registration / assessment of risk factors are performed after an observation made by the work activity during several work cycles.

    Moreover, when a selection of the postures is analyzed it must be carried out after a detailed study, with no sense of selecting (1) posture maintained longer in the work cycle, (2) a posture assumed when it occurs as greater loads, actions and (3) a more demanding position assumed especially presence of extreme joint angles.

    In this context, is it possible to evaluate the body unilaterally, for example - right or left in each application of RULA. Moreover, if there are several risk factors related to the posture assumed or the activity performed, it is important to evaluate each one in singular uses of the method. In other words, it is possible to carry out several records in each workstation and consequently obtain various risk classifications of the main components of the activity, in each workstation.

    As a result, the level of detail required in the RULA method is selected in order to provide sufficient information for an initial analysis, as well as to enable recommendations to be made quickly, serving as a general assessment.

    The initial application begins with the postural classification of the shoulder, arm after the elbow and, finally, the wrist. As for the applications of strength and muscle repetition, they are also evaluated. Additionally, the obtained classifications are inserted into a matrix that allows to obtain a classification for the upper limb.

    The next step, the posture of the cervical spine, trunk and lower limbs is assessed. This is followed by a process of identifying the application of strength and muscle repetition. Finally, the results obtained in the matrices of the upper limbs, vertebral column and lower limbs are combined in another matrix, where the level of risk RULA.

    The results are interpreted according to the following values obtained as the final RULA score:

    • a) 1 or 2: Acceptable work station (green area);

    • b) 3 or 4: Workstation to be investigated (yellow area);

    • c) 5 or 6: Workstation to be investigated and changed quickly (orange area);

    • d) 7: Workstation to be investigated and changed urgently (red area).

    2.4 OCRA Checlist (Ocupational Repetitive Actions)

    According to Colombini and Occhipinti (2016) the OCRA checklist is a simplified tool for measuring the risk of biomechanical overload of the upper limbs, which can be used both in the initial stage of estimating risk levels in a certain setting, or to managing risk. Thus, the OCRA checklist consists of five parts that focus on the four main risk factors (lack of recovery time, frequency, force, awkward posture/stereotyped movement) and a number of additional risk factors (vibration, low temperatures, precision work, repeated impacts, etc.), and also factor in the net duration of repetitive jobs on the final estimate of risk.

    The OCRA checklist can also be completed by watching the worker carry out his or her job, but as for the OCRA index, it is easier to perform the analysis by looking at films of the specific task performed by workers. Furthermore, the classic analysis proposed by the OCRA checklist entails using preassigned scores (the higher the score, higher is the risk) to define the risk associated with each of the aforementioned factors. As a result, the sum and product of the partial values generate a final score that estimates the exposure level based on the OCRA index, featuring four different levels (green, yellow, red, and purple) (Colombini and Occhipinti, 2016).

    The sum and the partial value products generate a final score that estimates the level of exposure based on the OCRA index, with four different levels (green, yellow, red and purple). The calculation procedure of the final result (Figure 1) shows that, as all risk factors are included, the recovery period is a multiplier that must be applied, along with the duration factor, to the sum of the scores to other risk factors (Colombini and Occhipinti, 2016).

    Another reason worth mentioning is that the method is useful for fairly accurately measuring the risk of biomechanical overload of the upper limbs and also for gathering vital information for the purposes of risk management (such as corrective actions, job rotation, etc.) and damage (Colombini and Occhipinti, 2016;Hsu et al., 2016).


    3.1 Ethics

    This study was analyzed by the Committee of Ethics in Research of the Federal University of Technology, Paraná - Brazil and received the authorization to be conducted in June 07, 2018, under the no. CAAE 83437517.0.0000.5547, in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

    3.2 Criteria for Choosing Studies

    The first methodological stage to choose the method applied in this study was based in the bibliometric research found in the Scopus, Web of Science and Science Direct databases, tracking articles published from 2007 to 2017 with the highest impact factor. The articles were searched using combinations of keywords, including the two comprehensive areas that comprised: Industry Construction and Risk Ergonomics, plus a second search axis addressing the ergonomic methods: RULA and OCRA Checklist, correlating these words with the ones previously used. Finally, direct and indirect tracking of the citations were carried out in all the articles found in the search, including the systematic reviews found in the study area.

    3.3 Criteria for Choosing Ergonomic Analysis Methods

    Regarding the choice of the RULA and OCRA checklist methods used in this work, the authors followed the technical criteria according to the characteristics presented by the main observative methods, and with low cost for application and development in a construction site, in addition to presenting results and scientific publications in the main databases international research (Micheli and Marzorati, 2018;Calvo et al., 2018;Vujica and Harih, 2020;Joshi and Deshpande, 2019;Li et al., 2020;Hellig et al., 2020;Dianat et al., 2020;Kee, 2020;Dias et al., 2020).

    It is worth noting the main characteristics taken into account by the different methods of ergonomic analysis for biomechanical overload of the upper limbs shown on Table 1.

    To choose the methods OCRA checklist and RULA, the authors took into consideration the main characteristics and the characteristics already listed in Table 1. Undoubtedly, the two methods evaluate the risk conditions for injuries to upper limbs depending on the activity performed and proposes practical solutions to analyzes of a workstation indicating to best adapt this working site. In addition to its easy application, it counts with low cost and ample resources for the analysis of an activity as complex as civil construction.

    To support the choice of the OCRA method for this research, the International ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 11228-3: 2009 indicates it as the preferred method of analysis of repetitive action, as it covers all relevant factors.

    It is also applicable on the analysis of complex tasks, based on extensive epidemiological data (extensive database of the occurrence of WMSDs) in relevant populations of exposed works (ISO 11228, 2009).

    According to Colantini et al. (2013), the OCRA checklist method is indicated by Standard ISO 11228-3: 2009 also for studies of low loads with high frequency of repeatability, which is the case of the execution of an external trailer on building facades. Such method takes into consideration several risk factors such as: repetitiveness, strength and posture.

    As for the RULA method, compared to the rest of the observational methods taken into account on this work, it presents a solid posture analysis once it takes into consideration the measurement of musculoskeletal risk. It also allows a comparison between the design of the current workstation and the improved one, and at same time guide the workers on the risks created by different work postures during work according to the load handled by them (Douwes and Kraker, 2014).

    Also, according to (Chiasson et al., 2012), observational methods are still the most applied by professionals (Takala et al., 2010). They are easier to use, less expensive, and more flexible when it comes to collecting data in the field. The number of published methods has increased in recent years (David, 2005), and now the ergonomic literature contains a variety of methods aimed at professionals and researchers (So et al., 2019).

    3.4 Participants and Collected Data

    The first stage of the research for the ergonomic analysis tool in the construction industry was exploratory and based on a quantitative approach, through field research and case studies. Data was collected through a survey research with interviews and questionnaires applied in loco in seven construction sites in Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil.

    In buildings with an average of fifteen (15) floors, in which the external plastering was carried out with the aid of scaffoldings, thus characterizing the work at high height for a total of 32 analyzed workstations, described in Figure 2. Data collection was performed through filming each workstation for posterior analysis with the methods.

    A total of 101 male participants were construction workers distributed in external plastering jobs, randomly invited to participate. With the defined population, the exclusion criterion for employees who were in the trial period, 90 days in accordance with Brazilian labor legislation was applied, we ended up with the total number of 90 workers.

    The analysis of a sample must be performed at a 95% confidence interval, with a margin of error of 0.05, ending in a definitive number of 32 workers. When performing the sample calculation for all anthropometric variables of workers such as age, weight and height, it can be concluded that the age factor presented a larger sample, thus being considered the final number of the sample.

    Filming and photographs were taken over a sixmonth period (2018), due to the complexity and availability of the activity at each participating construction site.

    The filming covered the entire cycle of the workstation showing the posture of the upper limbs with detailed visualization of the activities performed by the employee, as well as the handling of his working tools, filming and photographs taken by a good quality camera.

    The capture of the filming took place at the moments when the employee presented critical postures at the workplace during the execution of the external plastering activity. For the evaluation of postures and movements, the free video analysis software called Kinovea, version 0.9.1 was used.

    It was designed to explore and comment on biomechanical action. Such tool modifies and manages videos in a simple way, using a Window System and small graphic icons, writing data on the image, marking the axis, calculating angles, measuring distances.

    The videos of each workstation analyzed, after filming, editing and analyzing with Kinovea, resulted in an effective total cycle time of 45 seconds, for every square meter of working area executed on the facades of each analyzed building.

    To calculate the ergonomic risk using the OCRA checklist method, the ERGOepmChecklistOCRAauto- EM software was used, made available through the agreement signed between UTFPR and Epm International Ergonomics School.

    As recommended by the method, both right and left upper limbs were analyzed in each worker. In the RULA method, free software called Ergololandia, version 7.0 was used, the dominant upper limb was analyzed, taking into account the movement as a whole, an option allowed by those idealized in the method.

    The statistical methods used to correlate the data from RULA and OCRA Checklist methods, after evaluating data normality, were the Spearman’s linear correlation, ANOVA test and Post Hoc test, due to the sample size, using the IBM SPSS Statistics v23 software.

    The OCRA Index does not differentiate the gender of the worker assessed when calculating the risk level of a repetitive task. Therefore, in this study, the number of male participants was maintained and the data analysis will always be performed for the entire set of participants.


    In the RULA method, each stage of the cycle is differentiated by the changes in the posture of the upper limbs and/or exerted force, and each upper limb posture is attributed to each stage of the cycle (Roman-Liu et al., 2013). To (Samaei et al., 2017), the OCRA Checklist method verifies the workers’ body posture regarding statistics, dynamics and/or changes of posture during long work periods. Therefore, the RULA and OCRA Checklist methods were employed in the application of external plaster in the analyzed construction sites, and the results are shown in Table 2.

    After observing the visited workstations in construction sites, the 32 results of each method were analyzed to determine normality through descriptive statistical data analysis and through the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, since the sample have more than 30 elements. A non-normal distribution was determined, according to Tables 3 and 4.

    With the data set classified as non-normal, i. e., null hypothesis is refused, the correlation used to verify the linear correlation between the data was Spearman’s, The correlation results are shown in Table 5.

    For the analysis of Spearman’s Linear Correlation, we first formulated hypothesis to assess the correlations between the analyzed variables, which are:

    • H0: The results of the methods of ergonomic analysis are not correlated (ró = 0);

    • H1: The results of the methods of ergonomic analysis are correlated (ró ≠ 0).

    We have reached the following conclusions:

    Value of p ≠ 0, i. e. p > 0.05 (5%) accepts hypothesis H1. The results of the analyzed variables show enough statistic evidence to state that the results of the methods of ergonomic analysis are correlated more precisely. In the analyzed population, the higher the rates found in both methods, the higher the risk workers are exposed to in the analyzed activity.

    However, it is necessary to examine separately each possible correlation between the analyzed variables do determine the type of linear correlation and what is the intensity between the variables, The RULA method, when correlated to the other variables, shows a positive linear correlation regarding all other variables, However, when correlating the OCRA method in both limbs, it shows a weak intensity.

    Finally, the OCRA checklist method, when correlated between the two limbs, consequently shows negative linear correlation and weak intensity, due to the dominant limb of each worker. As shown in Table 1, the highest risk rate only happens in one limb, since each analyzed worker has preference for one of them (right or left).

    This result comes against the study conducted by (Parida and Ray, 2015), who performed an ergonomic analysis of the factors that influence ergonomic performance in constructions, using ergonomic methods and emphasizing in posture and movement repetition, in activities in which the weight lifted during a work shift was less than 2kg, not interfering in the posture and in the analysis repeatability.

    To verify the existence of differences in group averages (ergonomic analysis methods), that is, to compare the results of the methods, we used the ANOVA test (Table 6), considering the hypothesis:

    • H0 = there is no ergonomic risk difference between the methods (considering p > 0.05);

    • H1 = there is an ergonomic risk difference between methods (considering p > 0.05).

    The result of the comparison between the methods accepts the null hypothesis, e,i., the result of the comparison between the methods for the found significance corresponds to values 0.258 and 0.407, p > 0.05, that is, there are no differences between the ergonomic risks found by the methods.

    As for as to confirm the results found in the ANOVA analysis of variance test, the Bonferroni Post Hoc test was performed, confirming the null hypothesis again, the smallest difference found between the results of the OCRA checklist and RULA methods corresponds to the significance value 0.308, the remainder the significance values show values greater than 0.655.

    This result indicates that the two methods are suitable for the analyzed activity, showing to be effective to analyze ergonomic risks in the proposed activity, leaving to the researcher or manager the choice of the method that best suits the needs and requirements of the ergonomic analysis to be performed.

    Reinforcing the result found by the ANOVA test, (Bruno et al., 2013), for nonparametric data, such as the ones in this research, found weak correlations between the three groups analyzed in their research, thus confirming the correct test application.

    The results presented can be related to studies that also used comparison techniques between ergonomic analysis methods, serving to complement the results found or serving as a basis for new research, respecting the limitation that this study presents.

    The research carried out by (Chiasson et al., 2012) presented a comparison between eight methods of ergonomic analysis, but did not evaluate the OCRA Checklist method. The results found now can complement the results found in 2012, not only because it presents a more robust statistical analysis of how to use the OCRA checklist method for comparison with other methods, but also presenting the limitation of comparing the OCRA checklist with only one method.

    Without doubt, the RULA method compared to the OCRA checklist method showed no statistically significant differences when comparing the final results of each method. However, when analyzing the details that each method takes into account, the RULA method does not take into account recovery, complementary risks, shift duration, multitasking analysis, psychosocial and environmental factors and individual characteristics of the worker, showing a limited method for the multitasking analysis, such as the activities that civil construction presents.

    On the other hand, the OCRA checklist method takes into account a large number of characteristics of the analyzed activity (Burdorf, 2010), while the RULA method, like other methods, was developed within a specific research context, for this reason many times it is not a reliable method, the RULA method does not adequately adapt to an activity with a wide range of movements and characteristics, as in the activity of external plastering on building facades (Chiasson et al., 2012),

    In this context, the comparative study (Kong et al., 2017), carried out in the agricultural area, with four methods of ergonomic analysis, presented the ALLA method as the most superior method of ergonomic analysis for agricultural tasks. However, it presented a limitation for not using the checlist method of OCRA, since agricultural activity is also considered a complex multitasking activity, with a large number of characteristics to be taken into account, in addition to civil construction (Colombini, 2018;Colombini and Occhipinti, 2018).

    Another study, performed by (Lyu and LaBat, 2016), confirms again the issue of repetitive efforts and inadequate postures for asymmetric loads regarding weight, since the results of the ergonomic methods applied in the assessment of the analyzed activities confirmed the strong correlation between methods, restricting the analysis only to the factors that influence the incorrect posture and repetition of movements, since low weight lifted by the workers was not considered in the analysis.

    The results found in this research can collaborate with the results found in research already published, showing that ergonomic analysis methods are intrinsically linked to statistical analysis tools, proving to be suffi-ciently effective tools, but presenting the limitation of this research to be tested only for civil construction tasks.

    It is worth pointing out that the OCRA checklist, being a method that takes into consideration the flexion and rotation angles of the upper limbs, as well as the lower back region, has a result with a larger number of actions and interventions, and, considering the complexity of the activity, becomes a more complete tool to assess the ergonomic risk in workstations with more upper limb exertion.


    The musculoskeletal disorders acquired by construction working, specifically when applying external plaster in building facades, take this important sector of economy to a series of losses and declined productivity, added to managers’ lack of knowledge and the lack of willingness to invest in prevention and training their staff. However, even with these difficulties, this research showed the importance of applying methods to minimize ergonomic risks in this activity.

    The vast majority of the results showed the need for actions on workstations, thus adapting it to the worker, in order to generate a better quality of life, and, consequently, decrease the workers’ possibility of acquiring disorders and chronic illnesses.

    However, regarding the statistical correlation between the methods, both were efficient in the assessment of ergonomic risks, as they present a strong correlation with the results, allowing, therefore, a high degree of precision in the interventions proposed by workstations. The high correlation between the methods is also validated with the result found by the ANOVA and Post Hoc tests, which showed that there is no significant difference between the ergonomic risks found in the two methods, leaving the researchers or managers the choice of the best method of ergonomic analysis that best suits their needs.

    The results found in this research, when compared to other studies already published, even from different areas of the building construction, showed the efficiency of the OCRA checklist method for multitasking analysis compared to the RULA method and how much this research can be used to complement other published research or outline new research in the future.

    In contrast, it is necessary to clarify that the OCRA checklist method is the most complete method for analyzing a workstation, as it considers more variables, in addition to quantifying the risk to which the worker is exposed. It is also the preferred method for analyzing repeatability, according to ISO 11228-3: 2009 and, in addition, the analysis of the external plastering activity is centered on the observation of posture, repeatability and it is considered a multitasking activity.

    This article discusses procedures to deal with the biomechanical overload in construction through the use of statistical studies of comparison with other ergonomic tools, which have been adapted for work with exposure to multiple tasks that can change qualitatively and quantitatively throughout the year, generating a simple tool, this is also under development by the authors: the global premapping of danger and discomfort and assessment of the real risk of biomechanical overload, all for free download.

    Thus, this research is limited by the difficulty of access to construction companies, due to the fear that information and company names will be revealed to the public, and also because the activity is very specific, making access difficult and increasing the study period. Another important limitation is the number of methods compared, in addition to the number of tasks analyzed, since civil construction has a very large number of tasks for the execution of a multifamily housing.

    The effects that these limitations had on the accomplishment of this research, was the difficulty in comparing the results found with studies already published. The data available on Ergonomics in the field of construction are scarce, and more specifically in the building construction.

    Consequently, for future studies, we suggest the application of different methods of ergonomic analysis such as REBA (Rapid Whole Body Assessment), TACO method (Time-Based Assessment Computerized Strategy), or NIOSH method, performing a comparative study using a greater amount of statistical tools, in addition to analyzing other activities that make up the range of activities of building construction.


    From a social point of view, the important contribution of this research is the “formation” of development of university and non-university training packages, for premapping techniques and risk management of biomechanical overload in construction.

    As a result, the survey produced technical reports for the companies participating in the survey with regard to improving the quality of life of workers, minimizing the risk of illness related to work.

    Technical reports are documented in the authors' ORCIDs.


    The authors declare no conflict of interest. The authors are responsible for the content and article writing.


    The authors would also like to thank CAPES (Coordination of Higher Education and Graduate Training) for the funding provided, and all the organizations and individuals that kindly participated in this research.



    OCRA checklist calculation procedure.


    Configuration of high-rise external plaster work.


    Different methods of ergonomic analysis for biomechanical overload

    Results of RULA and OCRA checklist methods

    Verification of normality

    Normality test

    Spearman’s correlation

    ANOVA test results


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