Barbara A. Silverstein

Affiliate Professor, Env. and Occ. Health Sciences (Primary department)
Barbara Silverstein is the Research Director of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California San Francisco, her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Environmental and Industrial Health from the University of Michigan, and her PhD in Epidemiologic Science from the University of Michigan. She has worked on ergonomics-related issues at OSHA, the University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the California Department of Health Services. Her major areas of research have been identification and control of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, comparison of occupational health and hazard surveillance methods and intervention studies to control these disorders. Additionally, she has conducted research in workplace violence in late-night retail establishments and psychiatric institutions. She has conducted field research in a number of industries, including electronics, meat, poultry and fish processing, newspaper publishing, appliance manufacturing, medical equipment manufacturing, office work environment, pulp and paper mills, aluminum mills, saw mills, construction, automotive manufacturing, trucking, nursing homes and hospitals. She serves on a number of national and international commissions and editorial boards regarding occupational safety and health. She received the Jorma Rantanen Award in Occupational Health Research (2008) and the Bernice Owen Award for Research in Safe Patient Handling and Movement (2007). She participated in the NAS reviews of NIOSH programs (Mining and Health Hazard Evaluations). She was the chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Institute of Work and Health (IWH) in Toronto and has served on the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors, the NIOSH Study Section, and the NORA WMSD and Health Care Sector committees. She is on the University of Iowa's Advisory committee for Healthier Workforce Center of Excellence and is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and participates in the International Scholars Program. She serves on the editorial boards of 4 peer reviewed journals. She served two terms on the NIOSH study section and currently participates in ad hoc reviews.

Current studies include a) evaluation of safe patient handling (SPH) legislation implementation in Washington and Idaho, b) BLS sponsored study of BLS and Workers Compensation claims comparisons for amputations and carpal tunnel syndrome, c) assaults in state psychiatric hospitals, d) prospective study of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders in industrial and health care settings, e) implementation of SPH in VHA facilities, f) Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis through Surveillance (TIRES), g) Impact of consultation and enforcement on workers compensation incidence rates.


Research Interests

  • Ergonomics, Epidemiology, OHS Policy, Safe Patient Handling, Work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence, , health care workers, occupational health surveillance, international health & safety

Teaching interests

Ergonomics, OHS policy, epidemiology, international issues in H&S.


BSN, Nursing, University of California (San Francisco), 1969
MSN, Nursing, University of California (San Francisco), 1970
MPH, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, University of Michigan, 1982
PhD, Epidemiology, University of Michigan, 1985


Currently conducting WMSD surveillance project in high and low risk companies in 7 industry sectors in WA. Workplace violence study in state psychiatric hospital, BLS project in multiple workplaces
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