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Does Job Rotation Effect Musculoskeletal Injuries?

Humantech Board-Certified Ergonomist and Research Specialist Blake McGowan shares the findings of a randomized control trial that examined the impact job rotation has on musculoskeletal injuries.

ANN ARBOR, MI — Humantech Board-Certified Ergonomist and Research Specialist Blake McGowan shares the findings of the first ever randomized control trial that examined the impact job rotation has on musculoskeletal injuries in the video series, The Bottom Line.

Job rotation is a common administrative control used in industry to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. It is assumed that if employees are rotated between higher risk and lower risk jobs, they will be less likely to get hurt or fatigued by the stress of the job task.

The results of the trial found that job rotation:

  • Was ineffective at reducing physical workload.
  • Did not reduce the signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Did not reduce pain.
  • Did not reduce lost working hours due to injury.

“Higher quality research, from multiple academic institutions is showing that job rotation is not as effective at reducing MSDs as practitioners believe. Using job rotation as a primary MSD risk reduction strategy does very little, and rotating employees between jobs can actually spread the exposure to MSDs across the workforce. Engineering controls should be the first course of action,” says McGowan.

Each month, McGowan taps into the latest research relating to ergonomics and boils it down into simple takeaways that can be immediately applied in the workplace in his video series, The Bottom Line. Topics range from the benefits of employee engagement, lifting height and low back pain, the link between ergonomics and human capital to material handling best practices. 

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