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Effectiveness of job rotation for preventing work-related musculoskeletal diseases: a cluster randomised controlled trial
  1. Maria Luiza Caires Comper1,2,
  2. Jack Tigh Dennerlein3,4,
  3. Gabriela dos Santos Evangelista2,
  4. Patricia Rodrigues da Silva5,
  5. Rosimeire Simprini Padula1,5
  1. 1Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2Department of Physical Therapy, União Metropolitana de Ensino e Cultura, Itabuna, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maria Luiza Caires Comper, Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, Rua Cesário Galeno 475, São Paulo 03071–000, Brazil; marialuizacaires21{at}


Objective Job rotation is an organisational strategy widely used on assembly lines in manufacturing industries to mitigate workers' exposure so as to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of job rotation for reducing working hours lost due to sick leave resulting from musculoskeletal diseases.

Methods The design consisted of a 1-year cluster randomised controlled trial with a blinded assessor. Production sectors of the textile industry were randomised to intervention and control groups. Both groups received ergonomic training. The intervention group performed a job rotation programme. The primary outcome measure was number of working hours lost due to sick leave as a result of musculoskeletal disease (ICD-10). The secondary outcome measures were musculoskeletal symptoms (Yes/No), risk factors for musculoskeletal diseases (0–10), psychosocial factors and fatigue (0–100), general health (0–100), and productivity (0–10). All secondary outcomes were measured at baseline and 12-month follow-up.

Results At the 12-month follow-up, both groups showed an increase in the number of working hours lost due to sick leave for musculoskeletal disease. There was no significant difference between the job rotation intervention group (mean deviation −5.6 hours, 95% CI −25.0 to 13.8) at the 12-month follow-up and the control group. There were no significant differences between groups for the secondary outcomes (p>0.05).

Conclusions The job rotation programme was not effective in reducing the number of working hours lost due to sick leave, decreasing the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms, or improving perception of musculoskeletal pain and workplace risk factors, psychosocial risk factors and productivity.

Trial registration number NCT01979731.

  • Job design
  • Industrial Workers
  • Physical exposure
  • task rotation

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to all stages of the study.

  • Funding This study was supported by the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq), Brazil (473651/2013–0), who had no involvement in any step of the trial.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Research ethics committee of Universidade Cidade de São Paulo.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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