What Does Job Rotation Mean?
Job rotation refers to a work system in which a worker moves between two or more jobs or tasks for a set period of time.
It is primarily used to reduce exposure to ergonomic risks, such as repetitive muscle strain, that increase vulnerability to musculoskeletal injuries.
Safeopedia Explains Job Rotation
When used to advance occupational safety, job rotation acts as an administrative safety control by prescribing worker behavior for the purpose of reducing risk of injury or impairment. The aim is to reduce exposure to any risk posed by a workplace task by reducing the amount of time that any individual worker spends doing that task.
The principle behind job rotation for ergonomic purposes is the alleviation of fatigue and stress associated with a particular set of muscles and tendons by rotating employees between tasks that use separate muscle-tendon groups. Occupational health and safety agencies typically describe job rotation for musculoskeletal strain as occurring within a single day. For job rotation to be considered a valid method of risk control for the purpose of regulatory compliance, OSHA requires that a qualified person identify the ergonomic hazards associated with each task and ensure that the tasks being rotated between do not involve any of the same ergonomic stressors.
As an administrative control designed to reduce risk, job rotation is a less-preferred mode of injury prevention than engineering controls that eliminate employee exposure to the hazardous activity completely. OSHA emphasizes that job rotation should be used as a preventative measure to prevent physical fatigue and injury, not as a response to symptoms after an injury has occurred.
Additionally, job rotation is only suitable for reducing the risk of tasks involving repetitive or sustained strain of muscle-tendon groups. WorkSafe Victoria (Australia) notes that rotating through a high-force activity that exposes workers to an immediate risk of injury does not reduce overall risk within a system—it merely spreads the risk of injury between a larger number of workers.