Job rotation can reduce muscle fatigue and discomfort by changing the postures and the muscle groups employees must use during their workday. Job rotation is also a way to provide cross training and reduce boredom from monotonous, repetitive tasks. However, there are some cautions, which should be considered when developing and implementing a job rotation program.
Fed/OSHA’s Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Poultry Processing says job rotation can help your workers reduce fatigue and stress to a particular set of muscles. Consider the level of exertion for each task and which body parts are used for those tasks. Then set up a rotation system that allows your employees to switch tasks throughout the day. Your employees can either allow muscles and tendons to rest completely while using other parts of the body, or work at slower rates, use less force, or work in more neutral postures. Remember also to monitor employees to ensure a job rotation is not aggravating a problem.
Some job rotation program tips include
- Analyze which jobs are the most repetitive or demanding and which jobs are the least repetitive or demanding and rotate between them. Or, look to make changes to the most repetitive or demanding jobs as risks are identified.
- Ensure that the rotation plan relieves stress on muscle groups most often used in a task or job. Develop a rotation cycle that has lighter tasks following heavier tasks to give muscles and other soft tissues a chance to recover. For example, alternate tasks that require forward flexion or lifting with tasks that require standing or walking.
- Look at improving job tasks through process and design changes before implementing rotation. The goal is to reduce reaching, lifting, and forward flexion from jobs and consider if the job or task can benefit or be better performed at a seated workstation.
- Teach employees to self-rotate. If not a safety hazard, they may be able to switch sides of the machinery, move to the opposite side of a conveyor, or change hands periodically so that one side or one part of the body is not over-used. Change the mouse hand—move the mouse to the left hand if it is normally used with the right hand and vice versa—is often suggested for heavy computer usage.