Dr. Heather Johnston
Dr. Heather Johnston is a Ralph McGinn Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Work & Health, funded through WorkSafeBC. Prior to joining the scientists' team, she was a research analyst at the Institute.
Johnston holds a PhD in kinesiology and health science, as well as a diploma in health psychology, from York University in Toronto. She earned her MSc in kinesiology from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Johnston is an associate ergonomist through the Canadian College for the Certification of Professional Ergonomists and a sessional faculty member at McMaster University and York University.
With a background in biomechanics and ergonomics, Johnston's earlier research investigated musculoskeletal function, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and the measurement of workspace design. Having learned through this research of the strong connection between musculoskeletal function and psychological modifiers, Johnston adopted an interdisciplinary approach to research, largely encompassed by the biopsychosocial model. Her interdisciplinary approach lends itself well to her practice as an associate ergonomist, in which she is passionate about optimizing the interaction among a worker, their work and their environment to prevent work-related injury.
Johnston's current research explores the association between work-related MSDs and work-related psychological injuries to improve occupational health and safety (OHS) programs, policies and practices. Her research examines what these burdensome injuries have in common with respect to shared work-related risk factors, hazards and OHS strategies to address them.
“Almost everyone has had an experience or a story about a work-related injury. While I understood the biomechanics of musculoskeletal injuries, I couldn’t fully explain why MSDs and injuries happen for some people but not for others. Now, I can gather work experiences by integrating biomechanics, ergonomics and health psychology, helping me explore multiple modifiers that contribute to work-related MSDs and injuries.” – Dr. Heather Johnston
- Examining sex/gender differences in exposures to workplace-acquired communicable disease: a systematic review. Funded by WorkSafeBC. Ongoing.
- Financial incentives to promote employment of people with disabilities: when and how they work best. Funded by Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Ongoing.
- Irvin E, Tompa E, Johnston H, Padkapayeva K, Mahood Q, Samosh D. Financial incentives to promote employment of persons with disabilities: a scoping review of when and how they work best. Disability and Rehabilitation. 2022 epub ahead of print. doi:10.1080/09638288.2022.2133178.
- Biswas A, Harbin S, Irvin E, Johnston H, Begum M, Tiong M, Apedaile D, Koehoorn M, Smith PM. Differences between men and women in their risk of work injury and disability: a systematic review. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2022;65(7):576-588. doi:10.1002/ajim.23364.
- Tompa E, Samosh D, Johnston H, Irvin E, Gewurtz R, Padkapayeva K, Moser C. Funding employment services to create sustainable employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Institute for Work & Health; 2022.
- Beliveau PJ, Johnston H, Van Eerd D, Fischer SL. Musculoskeletal disorder risk assessment tool use: a Canadian perspective. Applied Ergonomics. 2022;102:103740. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2022.103740.
- Biswas A, Begum M, Van Eerd D, Johnston H, Smith PM, Gignac MA. Integrating safety and health promotion in workplaces: a scoping review of facilitators, barriers, and recommendations. Health Promotion Practice. 2022;23(6):984-998. doi:10.1177/15248399211028154.
Interviews and articles
- MSD prevention should consider role of gender and psychosocial hazards too. Workers Health & Safety Centre. March 8, 2022. Available from: https://www.whsc.on.ca/What-s-new/News-Archive/MSD-prevention-should-consider-role-of-gender-and-psychosocial-hazards-too
- WorkSafeBC fellowship awardee on the importance of good ergonomics. Canadian Occupational Safety. September 1, 2021. Available from: https://www.thesafetymag.com/ca/topics/occupational-hygiene/worksafebc-fellowship-awardee-on-the-importance-of-good-ergonomics/308724