The effects of job rotation on the risk of reporting low back pain

MB Frazer, RW Norman, RP Wells, Patrick Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (SciVal)


Job rotation has been widely recommended as an administrative control to reduce the risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. However, evidence of its benefits are hard to find in the literature. The effect of job rotation on predictions for the risk of reporting low back pain was estimated using Low Back Pain Reporting (LBPR) and Time Weighted Average (TWA) approaches. Index scores calculated using the peak hand force, the peak L4/L5 shear force and the L4/L5 moment cumulated over the entire shift were used to estimate the effects of job rotation on the probability of reporting low back pain. Simulations of realistic rotations between two jobs showed that workers in low demand jobs who rotate into higher demand jobs experience a linear increase in reporting probability using the TWA approach. With the LBPR approach a step increase in reporting probability occurred because of the immediate exposure to the peak loading parameters associated with the more demanding job. With a 50-50 rotation the TWA and LBPR index scores increased by 39% and 57%, respectively. With the LBPR approach the redistribution of risk was not uniform with job rotation. The increase was greater for those who rotated into the demanding job compared to the reduction experienced by those who rotated out of the demanding job. The effects of job rotation are not easily estimated because of the complex effect that mixing jobs has on peak and cumulative tissue loading.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-919
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics


  • low back
  • job rotation
  • cumulative loading
  • biomechanical model
  • administrative control


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