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

Steven Sadhra

Institute of Clinical Sciences
Reader in Occupational Health
Director of Teaching and Learning in Occupational Health
College Academic Lead for Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Contact details

Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (IOEM)
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Steven Sadhra is a Reader and lead for Occupational Health (OH) within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences (MDS).  He is the programme lead for the MSc in Occupational Health and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) professional courses in OH, which are recognised by various professional bodies including the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM), Royal College of Physicians (London).  In August 2018 Steven took on the role of Academic Lead for CPD short course for MDS.

Steven has published over 100 research papers and government reports, he is the co-editor of two textbooks, and has written over 15 book chapters.  He is the co-editor of the first Oxford Handbook of Occupational Health, which was awarded the first prize by the BMA (for Primary Health Care) in 2014.  His research focuses on the understanding of occupational risk factors and workplace interventions for various work-related diseases including respiratory disorders, contact dermatitis and occupational 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).  In 2009, he was awarded the RoSPA international award for services to Occupational Health.  Steven has excellent international links and has run professional training courses and workshops in different parts of the world including United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.


  • 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 by Prof Malcolm Harrington at IOH in 1991 and continued his research on the investigation and identification of new contact allergens in complex mixtures such as rosins and cutting oils. The research methodology developed combined chemical analytical techniques (chromatography, NMR, MS) with skin 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. 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.  Currently he is the external examiner for the University of Mauritius and the National University of Ireland in Galway.

Steven was appointed as the College Director of Education for Occupational Health at the University of Birmingham in 2007 leading undergraduate, post graduate and professional courses in in OH. Steven deputised for Professor Jon Ayres as Head of the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from 2012-2015.


College Lead for Teaching

In 2018 Steven was appointed as the academic lead for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses for the College of Medical Dental Sciences.   The main purpose of this role is to support academic staff (in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Nursing) to develop a portfolio of CPD activity to meet the training needs of employers including the NHS.

Steven has led teaching of Occupational Health for the College of Medical and Dental Sciences since 2008 which includes teaching of medical students, post graduate courses in OH and CPD professional courses.

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)
Lead for MSc research dissertations in Occupational Health

Diploma in Occupational Medicine

Lead for two week National Diploma in Occupational Medicine (approved by Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London)

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 field of occupational respiratory disorders to investigate the following:

  • Effects of work on health particularly in developing countries and interventions for risk reduction
  • Impact of respiratory health on work performance, workability and productivity
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of occupational health services including health surveillance programmes at work


Research Themes

  • Workplace interventions for individuals with respiratory disorders to return to work or remain at work and to improve 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 (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 that 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.  The ACEJEM has been applied to a number large epidemiological study which investigate respiratory disorders.

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

  • Member of the examinations committee for the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • 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) 


Recent publications


Adab, P, Jordan, R, Fitzmaurice, D, Ayres, J, Cheng, KK, Cooper, B, Daley, A, Dickens, A, Enocson, A, Greenfield, S, Haroon, S, Jolly, K, Jowett, S, Lambe, T, Martin, J, Miller, M, Rai, K, Riley, RD, Sadhra, S, Sitch, A, Siebert, S, Stockley, RA & Turner, A 2020, 'Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in primary care; from case finding to improving patient outcomes: the Birmingham Lung Improvement Studies (BLISS) research programme', NIHR Journals Library. <https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/#/>

Jain, A, Aggarwal, A, Adams, J, Jordan, R, Sadhra, S, Dubey, S, Allen, K & Kumar, K 2020, 'Delay in seeking medical help in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis in India: a qualitative study', International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1111/1756-185X.14001

Jain, A, Jordan, R, Sadhra, S, Allen, K & Kumar, K 2019, 'Work productivity loss among rheumatoid arthritis patients in India: a qualitative study', Rheumatology Advances in Practice. https://doi.org/10.1093/rap/rkz046

Murray, K, Lam, KBH, Mcloughlin, D & Sadhra, SS 2018, 'Factors in Removing Job Restrictions for Cancer Survivors in the United Kingdom Royal Air Force', Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-018-9758-x

Ishak, A, Haque, S & Sadhra, S 2018, 'Needlestick injuries among Malaysian healthcare workers', Occupational Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqy129

Rai, K, Jordan, R, Siebert, S, Sadhra, S, Fitzmaurice, D, Sitch, A, Ayres, J & Adab, P 2017, 'Birmingham COPD Cohort: a cross-sectional analysis of the factors associated with the likelihood of being in paid employment among people with COPD', International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, vol. 12, pp. 233—242. https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S119467

Rai, K, Adab, P, Ayres, J, Siebert, S, Sadhra, S, Sitch, A, Fitzmaurice, D & Jordan, R 2017, 'Factors associated with work productivity among people with COPD: Birmingham COPD Cohort', Occupational and Environmental Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2016-104014

Sadhra, S, Kurmi , O, Sadhra, SS, Lam, KBH & Ayres, J 2017, 'Occupational COPD and job exposure matrices: a systematic review and meta-analysis', International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, vol. 12, pp. 725-734. https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S125980

Tagiyeva, N, Sadhra, S, Mohammed, N & Ayres, J 2017, 'Occupational airborne exposure in relation to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung function in individuals without childhood wheezing illness: A 50-year cohort study', Environmental Research, vol. 153, pp. 126-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2016.11.018

Sadhra, S 2016, 'A guided workbook intervention (WorkPlan) to support work-related goals among cancer survivors: protocol of a feasibility randomized controlled trial', JMIR Research Protocols, vol. 5, no. 2. https://doi.org/10.2196/resprot.5300

Halford, JV, Lam, KBH, Sadhra, S & Folkes, SEF 2016, 'Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and service in the British Army', Occupational Medicine, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 17-19. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqv137

Sadhra, S, Kurmi, OP, Chambers, H, Lam, KBH & Fishwick, D 2016, 'Development of an occupational airborne chemical exposure matrix', Occupational Medicine, vol. 66, no. 5, pp. 358-364. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqw027

Sadhra, S 2016, 'Occupations associated with COPD risk in the large population-based UK Biobank cohort study', Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol. 73, pp. 378-384. https://doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2015-103406

Carmichael, F, Fenton, S-J, Pinilla Roncancio, M, Sing, M & Sadhra, S 2016, 'Workplace health and wellbeing in construction and retail: Sector specific issues and barriers to resolving them', International Journal of Workplace Health Management, vol. 9, no. 2, 9:2 , pp. 1-18 . https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-08-2015-0053

Murray, K, Lam, KBH, McLoughlin, DC & Sadhra, S 2015, 'Predictors of Return to Work in Cancer Survivors in the Royal Air Force', Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, vol. 25, pp. 153-159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-014-9516-7

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