Jack Dennerlein

Jack Dennerlein

Adjunct Professor of Ergonomics and Safety

Department of Environmental Health

Department of Environmental Health

404L Landmark
665 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: 617.384.8812

Professor, Northeastern University, Bouvè College of Health Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy

Co-director, Occupational Injury Prevention Research Training Program

Director, Occupational Biomechanics and Ergonomics Laboratory:
Our research aims to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) through understanding the injury mechanisms based on hypothesis-driven laboratory and field studies using biomechanics, neuromuscular and exposure-response protocols and models.

Co-principal investigator, HSPH Center for Work, Health, and Wellbeing, a NIOSH Total Worker Health of Excellence.

Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Current Research Projects

Interactions of Biomechanics and Psychosocial Stressors and MSDs in the Modern Office: A pathway for psychosocial factors is increase in exposure to physical risk factors.  Laboratory evidence suggests this pathway exists; however, field data are limited.   This project will measure biomechanical factors across different psychosocial environments among 120 office workers.  The project will test for differences in biomechanical factors across these environments as well as build task based exposure assessment estimators for larger cohorts.

Integrated Approaches to Improving the Health and Safety of Health Care Workers: The purpose of this research study is to lay the foundation for integrated interventions in health care through: (1) examination of the associations of workers’ health outcomes and risks on and off the job with work policies and practices, and (2) development and preliminary testing of an integrated, multi-level intervention addressing the prevalent issues of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly low back pain disability, and health promotion through physical activity among patient care workers.

The effects of product design on upper extremity biomechanics: Working with product designers we are exploring the effects of human-computer interface (HCI) devices such as mobile technology (iPads to Notebooks), keyboards, pointing devices, and workstation setup on the upper extremity kinematics, kinetics and muscle activity.

Effectiveness of Employee Safety Incentive Programs in Construction: We have developed a progressive incentive program that rewards workers, foremen, site supervisors and project managers for achieving a certain performance on safe work conditions (leading indicators of safety) as measured with a safety inspection tool and performance monitoring systems within their group.We are currently pilot testing the program and will initiate a randomized controlled trial in 2011 to 2013.


Ph.D., 1996, UC Berkeley
S.M., 1989, MIT
B.S., 1986, University at Buffalo

Selected Publications

Barrero LH, Katz JN, Dennerlein JT.  Self-reported ergonomic demands for occupational epidemiological research of musculoskeletal disorders: current instruments, methodological issues and future directions.  Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 2009;35(4):245-260

Kennedy CA, Amick BC, Dennerlein JT, Brewer S, Catli S, Williams R, Serra C, Gerr F, Irvin E, Mahood Q, Franzblau A, Van Eerd D, Evanoff B, Rempel D. Systematic review of the role of occupational health and safety interventions in the prevention of upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms, signs, disorders, injuries, claims and lost time.  Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2009 Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print]