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Shift rotation option to increase productivity, safety

  • Published
In an effort to increase productivity and reduce the potential for workplace accidents during night and swing work shifts, the Air Mobility Command commander instituted an optional shift rotation policy in a message to the command June 21.

Gen. John W. Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, recommended all AMC organizations with multi-shift operations consider adopting a 120-day rotation policy for their night-shift workers.

Our Airmen are our most important asset and have a direct impact on mission effectiveness, General Handy said in the message. Our performance goal for all members is optimal job productivity with no adverse impact on safety, health and general well-being Shift rotation is one of the tools that will enable our Airmen to perform at their best.

The rotation option encourages organizations to rotate all active-duty Airmen assigned to a night shift, a shift where a majority of work hours do not fall between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., every 120 days. The 120-day rotation schedule was selected to coincide with the standard AEF deployment cycle.

In addition to active-duty workers, the policy also affects Airmen who have been recalled to active duty, are activated or serving on extended active duty tours. The policy doesnt apply to civilian employees, contractors and Reservists in civilian work status.

Depending on the number of Airmen working night shifts in an organization, it is possible that not all day-shift personnel will have to rotate shifts. Also, to avoid mass rotations, implementation can be made over a 120-day period. 

The shift rotation option resulted from concerns raised during a command-wide logistics shift operations study conducted in 2004, said Col. James Van Housen, chief of AMC Logistics Reserve Affairs Division and the command point of contact for the policy. 

The study found that proportionately fewer quality assessments were being conducted at night and overall quality assurance failure rates were higher on night shifts. The study also found that night shifts tend to have a higher rate of Airmen with failures on career development courses.

This policy is an effort to change perceived differences in the cultures between day and night-shifts, Colonel Van Housen said. In many cases, Airmen who have long-standing tours on night shifts do not receive the same training opportunities as their day-shift counterparts and experience a limited portion of total Air Force life. 

Having workers rotate shifts also helps raise a broader awareness of safety issues that affect the different shifts, the colonel said. 

Shift extensions can be requested by an individual or organization for up to 480 days as the mission and individuals needs dictate. A first 120-day extension can be granted by an organizations squadron operations officer or superintendent. Two subsequent 120-day extensions can be granted by the squadron and group commander, respectively. 

The shift rotation option is also being included in an AMC instruction, detailing shift, fatigue and endurance management principles and guidelines, which is scheduled to be published in the fall.

Air Mobility Command News Service is a service of the Internal Division
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