Effective Job Rotation

When done properly, job rotation (i.e. rotating between jobs or job tasks throughout a shift) can have a multitude of benefits for the individual employees and the organization, including:

  • Reduce cumulative muscle activity and MSD hazard exposure
  • Reduce physical fatigue and job boredom
  • Increase understanding of all aspects and steps of production
  • Provide well-rounded training of many workers
  • Provide management with a more flexible workforce
  • Assist with career development of workers

Many companies, although in a valiant effort, struggle to implement an adequate job rotation program that achieves all or at least many of the above-mentioned benefits. The following are the ideal steps to job rotation planning:

1. Determine which jobs/job tasks to include in the job rotation plan

Not every job should be included in the rotation plan as some are simply not suitable (e.g. require specific licenses, performed infrequently). When deciding which to include, consider:

  • The skill level required to complete the job
  • The likelihood of injury (i.e. injury risk rating)
  • The layout and geography of the facility

2. Determine the physical demands required of each job

Understanding the level of risk associated with each job is imperative when building an effective job rotation plan. Each job task and the necessary postures should be classed as either low, moderate, or high risk and used as the main factor in developing a plan. Ideally, aim to rotate from a low risk job to either another low-risk job or a moderate or high-risk job and vice versa, while avoiding going from one high-risk job to another of high risk. For example, if Job A poses a high risk of injury to the shoulder, Job B should work towards more neutral shoulder postures to mitigate strain and fatigue to the shoulder.

3. Determine the frequency within which to rotate

Itís important to only rotate as practicality allows. Determine what makes sense in terms of rotation frequency and implement that. If a job takes 4 hours to complete and requires a precise step-by-step process, it doesnít necessarily make sense to switch Operators half way through. Instead, rotate every 4 hours to allow one Operator to complete the job at hand, and then rotate to allow the next Operator to begin the process over. Although it does vary job to job, some common rotations include every 30 minutes, hourly, every 2 hours, every 4 hours, or daily.

Get your job rotation plan up to par with this step-by-step guide to building an effective job rotation plan.

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