The Bottom Line: How Effective is Job Rotation on Preventing MSDs?
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
VelocityEHS ergonomist Blake McGowan shares the findings of two systematic reviews that examined the impact job rotation has on musculoskeletal injuries.
References: Comper MLC, Dennerlein JT, Evangelista GDS, Rodrigues da Silva P, Padula RS. (2017). Effectiveness of job rotation for preventing work-related musculoskeletal diseases: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Occup Environ Med. 2017 Aug;74(8):543-544.
Hi, my name is Blake McGowan, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist with Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). Job rotation is a commonly applied administrative control to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. Recently, two systematic reviews showed mixed results regarding the effectiveness of job rotation on reducing MSDs. At best, job rotation did little to MSD’s, and at worst, it may even increase physical risk factors, workload, and injuries in the workplace.
To better understand the effectiveness of job rotation on injuries, Jack Dennerlein and his colleagues from Harvard University conducted the first-ever randomized control trial on job rotation. A randomized control trial is considered the gold standard for clinical trial interventions. Basically, it determines the effectiveness of that intervention. So, what did they find? After the 12-month intervention, they showed that job rotation was really ineffective at reducing physical workload, signs and symptoms of MSDs, pain, as well as it did not reduce any lost working hours associated with injuries.
So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that job rotation does very little to reduce MSDs in the workplace.