Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health
Members of the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH)

As part of the development planning for the department in the area of research, the department has established a research centre to focus on occupational and environmental health research activities. The Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) will serve as a hub to attract researchers and establish collaborative studies to enhance the quality of research in the University of Malaya. The area of Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH) has shown a growing trend of public health interest. Significant development had been introduced by the various international and national agencies in this area, which requires many more studies to build into the body of knowledge. The current head of the centre is Associate Professor Retneswari Masilamani. The centre is equipped with an occupational and environmental health laboratory to achieve its aim of producing quality research studies.

  1. To become the Centre of Excellence for Occupational and Environmental Health Research;
  2. To establish smart partnerships in Occupational and Environmental Health Research; and
  3. To establish a learning and research centre to support occupational and environmental health courses
Areas of Research
The areas of interest that this Research Centre shall embark on:
Workplace Hazard Identification and Prevention (WoHIP)

Health effect of new industrial and environmental technology among workers including occupational diseases and hygiene studies.

Current on going studies

  1. Effectiveness of hearing conversation program on standard threshold shift adopting different permissible exposure levels and exchange rates among cement factory workers in states in Malaysia : Quasi Experimental Study.
  2. Dose response relationship between whole body vibration (WBV) and low back pain (LBP) among different types of commercial vehicular drivers (bus, lorry and taxi) in the state of Sabah.
  3. A comparative analysis of hand arm vibration syndrome among vibration exposed workers from cold and warm climate countries.
  4. Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome , Occupational Impact and Quality of Indoor Air in an Office Environment in Kuala Lumpur.
Work Ability (WorAb)

Effect of injury or disease on workers ability in their occupation, return to work, disability and impairment

Current on going studies

  1. Psychosocial Barriers for return to work.
  2. Prognostic model in predicting return to work among workers with occupational injury.
  3. The healthy worker programme to promote healthy life style and quality of working life among office workers in Klang Valley: a quasi experimental study.
  4. Quasi Experiment: Impact of interventional Supportive Programme on Work Ability, Nutritional status and Quality of life among colorectal cancer patients.
Work (Occupational) Epidemiology and Health Promotion (WEHoP)

Prevalence of disease, screening methods, biological monitoring, toxicological base research among workers, economics.

Current on going studies

  1. Prevalence of Pulmonary Tuberculosis and associated risk factors among Correctional Officers in Malaysian Prisons.
  2. Sexual harassment of women at the workplace in Malaysia a mixed method approach.
  3. Salivary Cortisol and IgA Markers for Psychological Stress: Study of Workplace Stress among Police Personnel.
  4. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for occupational Stress: An intervention study of personal and organisational outcome in public university.
  5. Smoking cessation at a workplace: Outcome and predictors of a smoking cessation intervention in a randomised controlled study vi) The Direct, Indirect and Intangible cost of Occupational Diseases among workers in Malaysia
Future research areas
  1. Stress among workers (e.g factories, construction, plantation, property and health care sectors including human resource personnel).
  2. Noise induced hearing loss among workers such as in factories, construction, plantation, health sector, fabrication yards and other noisy workplaces.
  3. Whole body and segmented vibration effects among workers in construction sites, factories, assembly lines, mills etc.
  4. Chemical and toxicological exposure based effects among workers in industries, fabrication yards, laboratories and relevant work sites.
  5. Ergonomics – work related upper limb musculoskeletal diseases and low back pain among workers exposed to heavy manual handling and repetitive work (e.g assembly lines, factories, construction, health care, laboratories etc.)
  6. Biological markers indicative of work related disease or exposure – IgA, cortisol, chromogranine, cholinesterase levels etc.
  7. Respiratory diseases due to occupational and environmental exposures –occupational asthma, asbestosis, allergic respiratory diseases or any deviations of the respiratory functions.
  8. Neurotoxicological studies – solvent toxicity, heavy metal toxicity.
  9. Research cohorts on fitness for work studies.

To strengthen the establishment of the centre, a Memorandum of Agreement will be executed as part of the plan with the College of Public Health, National Taiwan University (NTU). This would enable support in terms of expertise and supervision from NTU to COEH-UM.

Expected outcome

The COEH-UM will serve as a catalyst to promote research and development locally, nationally and globally. Among the areas of interest that the centre will embark on includes health effects of new industrial and environmental technology among workers, environmental sampling and biological monitoring, and toxicology  based research among workers. With this exploration into higher quality research, we are hoping to enable higher quality products such as higher impact scientific publications and policy changes for OEH in the country.


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  2. Workshops & Short Courses
  3. Research
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The Occupational Medicine Clinic is a referral clinic for occupational diseases and is open on every Friday in University Malaya Medical Centre.