Emma Irvin

Director, Research Operations
BA, University of Toronto

Emma Irvin entered the field of occupational health and safety through an area close to any researcher’s heart: the library. She was one of the Institute’s first employees, joining in 1991 to help set up what is now a healthy research library. “I wanted to start something from scratch,” she says.

With a background in the humanities at the University of Toronto, Irvin had an interest in research. Before joining the Institute, she worked as a librarian for Morgan Stanley, an experience that gave her exposure to a corporate environment. She also had an interest in epidemiology. Together, these factors pushed her toward a career in health and safety research.

Today, Irvin is the director of Research Operations for the Institute. A full member of the executive team, she oversees research planning and operational aspects of the Institute’s business. She also oversees the internal library, information systems and a key program area—systematic reviews.

“Systematic reviews focus on one research question, and they do the work of selecting and summarizing existing literature that relates to that question,” she explains. “They’re incredibly important for our stakeholders, and they encourage evidence-based practice.”

Currently, Irvin is working with executive and research staff to develop the next strategic plan that will guide the Institute’s operations and research over the coming years.

“It's been great to see the systematic review program through the last five years, and I'd like to see it keep going,” she says. “In addition, I hope to continue developing research methods for conducting systematic reviews and maintaining the high quality of our research operations.”

Current projects: 

Central nervous system agents and the risk of workplace injury and death: A systematic review of the literature

Managing depression in the workplace

Synthesizing occupational health and safety knowledge for local stakeholders

A systematic review of long-term use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain

An assessment of knowledge transfer and exchange: Researcher and stakeholder perspectives

Selected Publications: 

Steenstra IA, Cullen K, Irvin E, Van Eerd D, IWH Older Worker Research Team. A systematic review of interventions to promote work participation in older workers. Journal of Safety Research, 2017; 60:93-102

Carnide N, Hogg-Johnson S, Côté P, Irvin E, Van Eerd D, Koehoorn M, Furlan A. Early prescription opioid use for musculoskeletal disorders and work outcomes: A systematic review of the literature. Clinical Journal of Pain, 2016; doi 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000452 [Epub 10 Nov 2016] 

Steenstra IA, Munhall C, Irvin E, Oranye N, Passmore S, Van Eerd D, Mahood Q, Hogg-Johnson S. Systematic review of prognostic factors for return to work in workers with sub acute and chronic low back pain. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2016; doi: 10.1007/s10926-016-9666-x [Epub 19 Sep 2016]              

Tompa E, Kalcevich C, Foley M, McLeod C, Hogg-Johnson S, Cullen K, MacEachen E, Mahood Q, Irvin E.   A systematic literature review of the effectiveness of occupational health and safety regulatory enforcement. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2016 Nov;59(11):919-933 doi:10.1002/ajim.22605. Review                                    

Van Eerd D, Munhall C, Irvin E, Rempel D, Brewer S, van der Beek AJ, Dennerlein JT, Tullar J, Skivington K, Pinion C, Amick B. Effectiveness of workplace interventions in the prevention of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and symptoms: an update of the evidence. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2016; 73(1):62-70; doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-102992

Van Eerd D, King T, Keown K, Slack T, Cole DC, Irvin E, Amick III BC, Bigelow P. Dissemination and use of a Participatory Ergonomics Guide for workplaces. Ergonomics, 2016; 59(6):851-8