Dr Steven Sadhra PhD, MFOH, CMIOSH, FFOM (Hon.), FSOM (Hon.)

Dr Steven Sadhra

Institute of Clinical Sciences
Senior Lecturer and Director of Education for Occupational Health

Contact details

Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Institute of Clinical Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Steven Sadhra is a Senior Lecturer and lead for Occupational Health at the Institute of Clinical Sciences. He is the programme lead for the MSc in Occupational Health (OH) and CPD professional courses in OH which are recognised by various professional bodies including the Faculty of Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (London).   Steven is also the joint cross College lead for the MSc programme (Science of Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment).  He has run professional training courses and workshops in different parts of the world including United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Azerbaijan.

Steven has published over 80 research papers and government reports and is the co-editor of two text books and has written over 15 book chapters. He is the co-editor of the first Oxford Hand Book of Occupational Health which was awarded the first prize by the BMA (for Primary Health Care) in 2014.  His research focuses on occupational risk factors and workplace interventions for various diseases including respiratory disorder, contact dermatitis, noise induced hearing loss, respiratory disorder and cancer.  

Steven has over 25 years’ experience in research, teaching and training in Occupational Health and his contribution has been recognised through honorary fellowships of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM). More recently he was awarded the RoSPA international award for services to Occupational Health.


  • Post Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hygiene 1994
  • PhD in Occupational Health 1991
  • BSc (Hons) Applied Sciences, Nottingham University 1985


Steven qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Sciences from Nottingham University in 1985. He came to the University of Birmingham in 1986 to study for his PhD in Occupational Health (occupational contact dermatitis) at the Institute of Occupational Health (IOH).   He was appointed as a Lecturer at IOH in 1991 and continued his research on the investigation and identification of new contact allergens in complex mixtures such as rosins, greases and oils. The research methodology developed combined chemical analytical techniques with patch testing of patients.  

Steven’s research on occupational contact allergens introduced him to different workplace environments where he developed his interest in the prevention of occupational diseases through better understanding of workplace factors, exposure pathways and characterisation of risks. This also led to the development of expertise in the design of engineering controls particularly for reducing exposure airborne pollutants. 

The interest in science behind the prevention of occupational diseases led to consultancy /research work for over 20 national and international government and manufacturing organisations with over 50 reports over a three year period. Steven took his professional examinations in Occupational Hygiene and became a Member of the Faculty of Occupational Hygiene Society in 2006 and Chartered Member of the Institution of Safety and Health (IOSH) in 2007. 


Steven has worked as a WHO consultant in Malaysia where he was appointed to the Ministry of Health to develop national occupational health research priorities. This project led to the formulation of a national research strategy for occupational health. He has also led a major European wide project on the human health assessment for a metal industry. 

Steven has been an external examiner for Post Graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Surrey, Nottingham University and Loughborough University. He has also been the examiner for the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) of the Royal College of Physicians (London) since 2000. He was awarded honorary fellowship by the FOM in 2004 and Fellowship of the Society of Occupational Medicine in 2010.  

Steven was appointed as the Director of Education for Occupational Health at the University of Birmingham in 2007 and deputised for Prof Jon Ayres as Head of the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from 2012-2015.


Teaching programmes

Masters programme
Academic lead for MSc/PGD -Occupational Health
Joint academic lead for MSc Science of Occupational Health, safety and the Environment
Lead for six post graduate modules on occupational health (risk assessment and management)
Joint lead for supervision of MSc research dissertations 

Diploma in Occupational Medicine
Lead for two week Diploma in Occupational Medicine (approved by Faculty of Occupational Medicine)

CPD professional courses
Lead for CPD courses in occupational health including Hand and Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), Occupational Contact Dermatitis, Occupational Mental Health and Occupational Ergonomics, MFOM revision programme for Specialist Trainees in Occupational Medicine.

Undergraduate teaching (Occupational Medicine)
Lead for teaching of Occupational Medicine for medical students

Postgraduate supervision

Steven is interested in supervising PhD projects in the following areas:

  • Workplace interventions for risk reduction for a range of occupational diseases including noise induced hearing loss, contact dermatitis and respiratory disorders
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of occupational health services including health surveillance programmes.
  • Assessment of occupational exposure to occupational hazards in particular airborne pollutants.


Research Themes

  • Workplace interventions  for return to work, effects of work on health and improving work capability
  • Development and use of job exposure matrices (JEM) in epidemiological studies to understand the role of occupational exposures (inhalation) and respiratory diseases.
  • Effectiveness of health surveillance programmes at work (noise, respiratory and dermal) 

Workplace intervention – return to work (cancer), fitness for work, effects of work on health (respiratory disorders), improving work capability   
Steven has been an investigator in studies which involve development of interventions on return to work after cancer and factors which exacerbate occupational chronic obstructive disease (COPD).  These feasibility studies investigate different approaches to designing interventions to either support individuals to return to work (after illness or treatment) and those at work with pre-existing disorders.  The interventions use different methodologies and approaches which include face to face interviews (relationship between work and health) and development of e-based information sources which individuals can easily access and use. Steven also worked on health and wellbeing projects which focused on specific industries such as catering and construction.

Development and application of job exposure matrices to understand the role of occupational exposures in disease burden
Steven has been part of a large UK Biobank Occupational COPD study (funded by Health and Safety Executive) which is led by Imperial College London. As part of this project he has led the investigations on occupational exposures and developed a new airborne chemical exposure job exposure matrix (ACE-JEM) which provides estimate for airborne exposure levels for different job types (SOC codes). This JEM can be applied to existing and new UK general population datasets to understand the role of occupational exposures (inhalation) and burden of disease.        

Effectiveness health screening at work - respiratory, dermal (bioengineering) and noise
Work in this area involves developing methods to evaluate the value and effectiveness of health surveillance programmes conducted in the workplace for the early identification of diseases arising from occupational exposures. Steven is interested in investigating both the quality of different routine health surveillance programmes (noise induced hearing loss, 

Other activities

  • Representative of the Society of Occupational Medicine on the National Occupational Health and Safety Committee
  • Member of the examinations committee for the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians.
  • Member of University of Birmingham Work, Wealth and Well-being Committee.
  • Fellow of the Society of Occupational Medicine (Hon)
  • Member of Institution of Safety and Health
  • Member of Faculty of Occupational Hygienists
  • Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (Hon) 


Over 80 publications including peer reviewed research papers, review articles, International reports, HSE contract reports and book chapters. He has coo-edited two textbook: ‘Occupational Health - Risk Assessment and Management’, published by Blackwell Science and the first-ever ‘Oxford Handbook of Occupational Health’ (Oxford University Press).


Murray K, Lam KBH, McLoughlin D, Sadhra S.  Predictors of return to work in cancer survivors in the Royal Air Force.   J Occup. Rehabil. DOI 10.1007/s10926-014-9516-7. Published on line 20 July 2014

Kurmi O P, Semple S, Devereux G S, Gaihre S, Lam KBH, Sadhra S, Markus FC Steiner M, Simkhada P, Smith W and Ayres JG. The effect of exposure to biomass smoke on respiratory symptoms in adult rural and urban Nepalese populations Journal: Environmental Health 2014, 13:92.

Sadhra S, Kurmi O P, Mohammed NI, Foulds IS. Protection afforded by controlled application of a barrier cream; a study in workplace setting. British Journal of Dermatology, 2014. DOI:10.1111/bjd.13108

Kurmi OP, Sadhra CS, Ayres JG, Sadhra S. Tuberculosis risk from exposure to solid fuel smoke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 2014. DOI: 10.1136/jech-2014-204120.

Kurmi OP, Smith WC, Devereaux GS, Sadhra S, Semple S, Steiner MFC, Lam KBH, Simkhada P and Ayres JG.  Does exposure to household and ambient air pollution pose a risk to cardiovascular health? A cross sectional study in Nepal. International Journal of Public Health Research 2013; 3(2):353-369.

Sakunkoo P, Neasinee C and Sadhra S. Concentration and size distribution of inhalable and respirable dust among sugar industry workers. Asian Pacific journal of Public Health 2011; 23(6):967-79.

Wheatley A D, Sadhra S. Carcinogenic risk assessment for emissions from clinical waste incineration and road traffic.  International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 2010; 20(5), 313-327.

Moore VC, Cullinan P, Sadhra S and Burge PS.  Peak expiratory flow analysis in workers exposed to detergent enzymes. Occupational Medicine.  2009; 59:418-423.

Sajiw N, Chaiear N and Sadhra S.  Exposure to wood dust and its particles size distribution in a rubber wood sawmill in Thailand. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 2009; 6: 483-490

S. Sadhra, A. Wheatley and H. Cross (2007). Dietary exposure to copper in the European Union and its assessment for EU regulatory risk assessment. Science of the Total Environment 374; 223-234.

S. Sadhra and Wheatley A.D (2007). Polyaromatic hydrocarbon emissions from clinical waste incineration. Chemosphere 66, 2177-2184.