The Bottom Line: Job Rotation Increases Overall MSD Risk
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
Many organizations use job rotation as a method to reduce the risk of injuries. But, mounting evidence shows the opposite. Recently, Sean Gallagher and colleagues from Auburn University evaluated its effectiveness to reduce MSD risk based on the Fatigue Failure Model. Director of Ergonomics Research Blake McGowan explains.
References: Amir Mehdizadeh, Alexander Vinel, Qiong Hu, Mark C Schall Jr, Sean Gallagher, and Richard F Sesek. (2020). Job Rotation and Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders: A Fatigue-Failure Perspective. Ergonomics. 2020 Apr;63(4):461-476.
Job rotation is an administrative control used to reduce the exposure to physical risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. Mounting evidence suggests that job rotation may actually increase the risk of injury for the pooled worker population. Recently, Sean Gallagher and colleagues from Auburn University evaluated the effectiveness of job rotation at reducing the risk of injury based on the fatigue failure model for MSD development, as well as real injury data.
So, what did they find? First, they found that any job rotation that includes the rotation with a high-risk task increases the risk of injury for the pooled worker population. Second, any rotation that includes a low-risk task, a moderate-risk task, and a high-risk task results in the low-risk task becoming high risk, the moderate-risk task becoming high risk, and the high-risk task remaining high risk.
So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that any job rotation that includes a high-risk task increases the overall risk of injury for the pooled worker population. Job rotation alone does not reduce overall risk. The best way to reduce MSD risk in the workplace is by implementing engineering controls and ergonomic interventions.