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Certified ergonomist Blake McGowan shares the findings of a systematic review on the effects of job rotation on musculoskeletal disorders in this month’s installment of The Bottom Line.

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Blake McGowan, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist with Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics).

Job rotation, which is commonly defined as alternating workers between different jobs and tasks that require different skills and effort, is something that I get asked about all the time, especially by health and safety professionals.

Well, job rotation is a commonly applied administrative control, especially in the manufacturing environment, that has some perceived benefits, and one of those benefits is the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs. So, how effective are job rotation programs at preventing MSDs?

Well, in 2016, a group of researchers from Northeastern and Harvard University conducted a systematic review of the literature to help answer that question. So, what did they find? Well, first, they found that there’s a limited amount of literature on the topic. Of the ten thousand-plus articles that they reviewed, they only found that there were 14 articles that were of high enough quality to include in the study, and actually, only one of those articles was deemed to be fair quality.

Second, they found that there’s weak evidence showing that job rotation programs are an effective approach to reducing or preventing MSDs. Third, for workers who participated in those job rotation programs, they found that there’s an overall perceived increase in physical workload. And lastly, probably the bright spot in this literature, is that for those participants who were involved in those job rotation programs, they showed an overall increase in job satisfaction.

So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line?

Well, the bottom line is that there is weak evidence showing that job rotation is an effective approach to preventing MSDs. So, if you are using job rotation as your primary approach to preventing MSDs, be careful. As always, implementing engineering controls is the best way to prevent MSDs.

So, for more information on Humantech and the Bottom-Line series, please feel free to visit us at Humantech (

Thanks, have a great day.