Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

The effectiveness of job rotation to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders: protocol of a cluster randomized clinical trial

Maria Luiza Caires Comper12* and Rosimeire Simprini Padula1

Author Affiliations

1 Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, Rua Cesário Galeno 475, 03071-000 São Paulo, Brazil

2 Discipline of Physical Therapy, União Metropolitana de Ensino e Cultura, Itabuna, Brazil

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:170  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-170

Published: 22 May 2014



Job rotation has often been used in situations where the level of exposure cannot be reduced due to the characteristics of the job or through physical measures. However, the effectiveness of the job rotation strategy at preventing musculoskeletal complaints lacks adequate scientific data.


A cluster randomized controlled trial will be used to investigate the effectiveness of job rotation to prevent musculoskeletal disorders in industrial workers. The randomized cluster was based in characteristics of production sectors. A total cluster will be 4 sectors, and 957 workers will be recruited from a textile industry and randomly allocated into intervention or control groups. Both groups will receive training on ergonomics guidelines. In addition, the intervention group will perform job rotation, switching between tasks with low, moderate, and high risk for musculoskeletal complaints. The primary outcome will be the number of working hours lost due to sick leave by musculoskeletal injuries recorded in employee administrative data bases. Secondary outcomes measured via survey include: body parts with musculoskeletal pain, the intensity of this pain, physical workload, fatigue, general health status, physical activity level, and work productivity. Secondary outcome measures will be assessed at baseline and after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. The cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed from the societal and company perspective.


Prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is beneficial for workers, employers, and society. The results of this study will provide new information about the effectiveness of job rotation as a strategy to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Trial registration

NCT01979731, November 3, 2013

Job design; Job rotation; Physical workload; Work related musculoskeletal disorders