Impact of Added Rest Breaks on the Productivity and Well Being of Workers

Ergonomics. 2001 Feb 10;44(2):164-74. doi: 10.1080/00140130121538.


The impact of frequent short rest breaks on the productivity and well being of a group of 30 workers in a meat-processing plant was studied. Two rest break schedules were tested, both of which provided 36 min of extra break time over the regular break schedule (30-min lunch and two 15-min breaks). In the first experimental rest break schedule, workers were given 12 3-min breaks evenly distributed over the workday (3-min break for every 27 min of work). In the second schedule, workers were given four 9-min breaks evenly distributed over the workday (9-min break every 51 min of work). Outcome measures included production rate and discomfort and stress ratings. Results showed that neither of the two experimental rest break schedules had a negative effect on production, and the 9-min break schedule improved discomfort ratings for the lower extremities. The workers in the study mostly preferred the 9-min rest break schedule, indicating that workers in general might not as readily accept fragmentation of break time into short, frequent breaks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Rest*
  • Stress, Physiological / prevention & control*
  • Workplace