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This study aims to measure maximum holding times(MHTs) of symmetric and asymmetric whole body postures, and to compare three representative observational methods including OWAS, RULA, REBA, based on the MHTs. An experiment was conducted for obtaining the MHTs, in which hand position was used as experimental variable, and the MHT and subjective discomfort rating as dependent variables. The hand position was defined by the percentage of the shoulder height(%SH), the percentage of the arm reach(%AR) and rotation angle(R). The results showed that three independent variables of %SH, %AR and R significantly affected on the MHTs at α=0.01, and that the MHTs were negatively linearly related to the discomfort scores of Borg CR10. It was also revealed that OWAS and REBA were less sensitive to postural stress than RULA. In addition, OWAS and REBA underestimated postural load of given postures compared to RULA. Therefore, it is recommended that among the three observational methods investigated in this study, RULA be used for a more precise evaluation of postural load.