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Effects of the new fast forward rotating five-shift roster at a Dutch steel company

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This article reports a field study of a shift roster change in a large steel producer. The changes in the roster are threefold: (1) from backward rotating to forward rotating; (2) from rather slow (three) to fast rotating (two consecutive shifts); (3) the number of days off after the night shifts was changed from two to three. Company data cover 1 year before and 1 year after the implementation of the new roster and involve all employees in the five-shift system (4600 workers) and all daytime workers (1450 workers) in technical and maintenance jobs as a control group. The study reports a decrease in absence figures (particularly on midterm sickness absence) of in total 0.6%. Furthermore, improvements in health indicators are presented, such as fatigue, musculoskeletal complaints, relationship work and health and workload in the year after implementation of the new roster. These positive effects are stronger for older workers (50 + years old). The results were significantly more positive for the shift workers compared with the control group. Statement of Relevance:This article reports an evaluation study of the largest continuous roster change in the Netherlands for decades: 4600 employees at Corus changed from a slowly backward rotating schedule to a fast forward rotating schedule. The effects are mainly positive (0.6% less absence in the first year; less fatigue). A positive association with age was also found: older workers benefit more.
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Keywords: absenteeism; effect evaluation; fatigue; health; shift roster design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: TNO Quality of Life, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands 2: ModernWorkx/Management & Governance, OOHR, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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