Importance of Job Rotation, Job Title, and Essential Demands (and baseball)

I have had two separate discussions this week involving job titles, job descriptions, and when employees are required to do jobs that are outside of their “specific” job title – but still essential job demands of their overall “job title”.  During both discussions, a key detail to the “specific” job title in question was that the specific job title falls under a much broader category.

I try to avoid sports analogies when meeting with clients because they can sometimes be cliché, especially depending upon the setting.  However, a recent Phillies game went into extra innings and became a great example of the situation that both clients were questioning.   While we refer to most major league baseball players by the position that they play, the overall job title that applies to them is baseball player.  During this extra inning game, the Phillies manager had to make some adjustments in the 13th inning (not really different than unplanned overtime) which included moving an outfielder to pitching and having a pitcher play in left field.  While not uncommon, moves like this don’t happen in every extra inning game.  What made this game memorable is that Vince Velasquez, the pitcher who was placed in left field, made two highlight worthy throws to throw runners out.  Each of these players were moved from their “normal” job to a different job, but still under the same title, and were able to fulfill their role – well maybe not for the outfielder who pitched because the Phillies lost the game.

We have several clients that use a system similar to this, in that when a person applies for a position with the company, they will apply for Job Title “A”.  For these clients, Job Title “A” will have several sub-titles or location areas that the employee may be directed to work within after company specific training.  They may have been hired with experience in other sub-titles or locations but these companies, much like the military, will place these new employees where they have a demand.   One of the companies uses a title of Mechanical for the position.  Those within the Mechanical position may work in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, rigging, welding, etc.  While an employee may be placed in one of these areas dependent upon company needs, they are all trained to be able to perform the tasks of mechanical employees so that when the need arises they can fill that particular need.  On the public sector side of this issue, we have seen similar job descriptions that require staff of public works departments or the buildings and grounds department within a school district have to be able to perform multiple roles as needed.

Cross job utilization can allow for companies to identify modified duty accommodations that an employee may be able to fill, help to spread out overtime over a larger group of employees if an individual employee is injured or ill, and allows some employers to reduce the amount of different job titles that they need to perform post-offer pre-employment tests for – if the job demands to be able to perform across multiple roles can be demonstrated to be an essential demand.

**  Of note for the diehard baseball fans, prior to these highlight reel throws Vince Velasquez was famous for throwing out a runner using his left arm after being struck in the right arm by a 96 mph line drive during the 2018 season.

Friday Five – 8/2/19

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.

Diane Gyi et al. have created a new anthropometry data set for plus sized workers.  With increasing obesity levels, this new dataset is very important as many of the original data sets  that were utilized were based on measurements of military personnel.  A course from The Back School on ergonomics for plus sized workers was a good reminder for me that this category requires some different ergonomic considerations because there are some different biomechanical needs when setting up or correcting workstations.  It was also a good reminder that this category is not necessarily about obesity – the plus sized worker category includes anyone that is outside of the normative data sets, regardless of the reason why they fall outside of the normative data.  (When I originally took the course, it reminded me of The Incredibles when Bob tries to become a non-super hero, stuffing himself into the small car or into his cubicle at work).

Dominique Larouche et al. look at the issue of safe handling techniques for paramedics when transferring patients from stair chairs to stretchers.  One of the interesting points is that they believe that training needs to be oriented more towards the ability to adapt work techniques based on the environment and on the work teammates.

Joshua Zheng Rui Ting et al. investigated the effect of an ergonomics/exercise intervention compared to an ergonomics/health promotion intervention on workability levels in the office worker population.   For the general population, there was no significant difference in results.  But for a subgroup of office workers who reported neck pain (greater than 3/10 at start of study), the ergonomics and exercise intervention group demonstrated trending improvements in workability when compared to the ergonomics/health promotion group, if they completed at least 70% of the exercise sessions.

Peter Love et al. dealt with the difficulties in establishing operational guidelines for construction safety when the information on injuries is not readily available to use to set best practice guidelines.

Kaitlin Gallagher et al. noted that walking breaks can help to reduce low back pain that is induced by prolonged standing.   Walking and moving is something that I have been an advocate of for a long time.  Walking is not only great to break up prolonged postures (sitting or standing) but the overall movement is helpful for preventing other health issues as well.