Job rotation is an increasingly common practice in many workplaces, and for good reason. It allows employees to gain exposure to different roles within the organization, enhancing their skillsets and gaining a better understanding of how the company works as a whole. In addition, job rotation has been used to help mitigate the risks of musculoskeletal injuries. In this blog article, we will explore the advantages of job rotation for both employers and employees alike.
What is Job Rotation
Job rotation involves cross-training employees so that they can move from one job to another on a set schedule.
In manufacturing, job rotation occurs between two different physical demand requirements for tasks. For example, an employee may rotate from one machine to another or even between two departments, depending on the job demands.
Benefits of Job Rotation in Manufacturing
As a stand-alone practice job rotation does not have a lot of research supporting it. But as a part of a culture, the benefits are numerous.
For employers, not only can job rotation assist in mitigating the risks of musculoskeletal injuries, but it can also help with the operational flexibility of the company. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about only having one person trained in each position. That way, when someone leaves or is out sick you are able to cover their task with little effort.
Job rotation also helps prevent injury. Injuries, however, are multifactorial and rotation alone will not reduce the amount your employees sustain alone. Job rotation along with ergonomic setups and training will work together in helping employees stay safe and injury free.
Related Article:Ergonomic Risk Factors
How Job Demands Reduce Injuries in Workers
Again, as a stand-alone method rotating employees between jobs doesn’t have a lot of power in reducing injuries. But combined with other strategies it can be an effective tool.
Job rotation helps decrease injuries, in theory, by taking a repetitive task and dispersing the demands of it over 2-4 people instead of just one. Instead of one person performing a task 1000 times a day, 4 people will rotate through the task and perform it 250 times.
Job rotation can also assist in decreasing the mental fatigue and burnout of employees. Doing the same thing for 8-10 hours a day can cause significant mental strain and burnout for employees. It is resulting in turnover, injury, and decreased productivity.
Mistakes of Job Rotation
The biggest mistake that we see companies make when it comes to job rotation is moving people between similar tasks because it is what they are good at. This defeats the purpose of the physical benefits of job rotation.
The goal of rotating jobs is to move people “across the line” in an assembly environment. The best way to combat this common mistake is by examining job demands.
Related Article: Job Demands Analysis
When devising a rotation schedule it is important to have accurate and updated job demands available for each position to analyze. You will want to devise your rotation schedule around these jobs. For example, an employee that starts their day at a highly repetitive task that requires significant fine motor movements should not rotate to another task with a high fine motor component. That employee should rotate to something that has very little fine motor work.
You will also need to ensure that your employee is physically capable to do the tasks that they are being trained on. Having employees do post-offer employment testing will assist in this along with the physical demands analysis that is on file for each position.
Related Article: Physical Ability Testing
In summary, the benefits of job rotation can include:
- Reduced exposure to focused physical demands of one job.
- Reduced physiological stress, strain, and fatigue to muscle groups used for one job.
- Reduced employee exposure to high-risk job demands.
- Reduced MSD incidents and severity.
- Increased innovation and improved work process efficiency.
- Improved employee skill base and increased job assignment flexibility over time.
- Reduced boredom and complacency.
- Increased productivity and quality.
- Reduced absenteeism and turnover.
OSHA’s Opinion on Job Rotation
According to OSHA’s guidelines for job rotation: “Job rotation should be used with caution and as a preventive measure, not as a response to symptoms. The principle of job rotation is to alleviate physical fatigue and stress of a particular set of muscles and tendons by rotating employees among other jobs that use different muscle-tendon groups. If rotation is utilized, the job analyses must be reviewed by a qualified person to ensure that the same muscle-tendon groups are not used.”
How WorkSafe can Help with Job Rotation
WorkSafe is able to assist in all aspects of implementing a job rotation schedule in your company. We can assist with job demands analyses, physical ability testing, and as the qualified person to review job demands per OSHA’s guidelines.
We can also provide recommendations on how to reduce a job’s physical and mental strain by introducing ergonomic improvements, reducing repetition, and providing adequate rest breaks.
Overall, job rotation is a great tool to have in your arsenal when it comes to mitigating injuries and burnout among employees. Having an accurate physical demands analysis on file and devising rotation schedules that are based on those demands can help you reduce injuries and the resulting costs associated with them.
It is important to remember that job rotation should always be done in combination with other safety measures, such as ergonomic improvements, rest breaks, and providing adequate training to employees. WorkSafe is here to help you with all aspects of implementing job rotation within your workplace.
Contact WorkSafe Physical Therapy to find out how we can help your company today!
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