Job Rotation

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  • Topic: Rotation, Employment, Ergonomics
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  • Published : September 29, 2011
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Job Rotation


Report to XYZ Co.

Prepared by Dan MacLeod

and Eric Kennedy



There are many reasons for implementing a job rotation system including the potential

for increased product quality, employee satisfaction and lower cumulative trauma

disorder rates. However, the difficulties of changing the organizational structure of an

entire facility can prove difficult. It is important that the program start slowly at first so

that the program can be further refined before being implemented elsewhere. This report

contains recommendations for making job rotation as beneficial and as straight forward

as possible. Contained within this document are:

Background Information

• Pros and Cons of Job Rotation

• Practical Implications of Job Rotation

• OSHA Guidelines

The Program

• Program Goals

• Steps of the Program

Detailed Guidance

• Who Decides Job Rotations

• How are Jobs Matched for Rotation

• How Often are Jobs Rotated

• Implementation

The background information is based on a review of the current knowledge base related

to job rotation. The detailed guidance is based on both that review and the experience of

the authors. This guidance should be viewed as a starting point for further discussion by

plant personnel.

Establishing a rotation system which properly determines job rotations and monitors their

safe use is not a simple task. There are many issues to consider and no official protocol or

methodology to call upon. The successful implementation of such a program requires

Page 1 teamwork from all parts of the organization including: management, union, nurses,

ergonomics monitors, and especially line employees.

Background Information

Pros and Cons of Job Rotation

A number of studies address the positive impact of variation and pauses during work, but

few studies have dealt with actual job rotation 1. However, several job rotation case

studies were found in the literature. These studies came from the United States, Japan,

and Sweden and covered a variety of industries. The following benefits were noted

among them:

• Reduced boredom

• Reduced work stress

• Increased innovation

• Increased free time activity

• Reduced CTDs

• Increased production

• Reduced absenteeism

• Reduced turnover

Several of the same case studies noted difficulties in implementing job rotation. Most of

these difficulties came from the challenge of changing the work structure and not from

the job rotation itself. The following problems were noted:

• Experienced workers not wanting to learn new types of work

• Machine operators not wanting to "lend" their machines to others

• Practical problems of physically getting from one job to the next

• Unsuitable wage forms

• Education and training of workers for new jobs

• Difficulties in finding appropriate jobs to rotate to

• Inappropriate use of job rotation by management

There was also one paper that offered evidence against job rotation. It stated that through

a learning process, individuals are likely to have developed a behavioral strategy that

protects them from the apparent hazards of the job. Thus, rotation of unskilled workers

into a biomechanically stressful job increases the risk of injury with each rotation 2.

This highlights the importance for complete training and break-in periods before an

employer begins a job rotation program. The training and break-in period enables the

employee to develop those behavioral strategies needed to limit the risk factors. This also

suggests that the number of jobs included in a particular rotation should be kept to a

minimum, perhaps two or three, allowing the employees to become "experts" at each


Page 2 To realize the beneficial aspects of job rotation it is necessary to establish definitive

guidelines which...
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