Liberty Mutual Researcher Wins Prestigious Award

Barbara S. Webster, RPT, PA-C, a researcher with the Liberty Mutual Research Center for Safety and Health in Hopkinton, Mass., received the 2002 Alice Hamilton Award at the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Annual Conference held last month in San Diego.

The Research Center, owned and operated by The Liberty Mutual Group, conducts original research in occupational safety and health and into the causes, consequences and prevention of disability.

One of AIHA's highest honors, the Alice Hamilton Award is presented annually to an outstanding woman who has made a definitive, lasting achievement in the field of occupational and environmental hygiene through public and community service, social reform, technological innovation or advancements in the scientific approach to the recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace hazards.

Webster was nominated by her research collaborators for her research achievements and long tradition of professional and community service in the health care profession. She was cited for her work in the areas of cost and disability burdens of musculoskeletal disorders and the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain in the workplace.

"I am delighted to have had the opportunity to present this award to Ms. Webster," states Steven Levine, Ph.D., CIH, AIHA past-president and chairman of the AIHA awards and nominating committee. "Her technical knowledge and personal commitment are both clearly focused on our common mission of worker protection and rehabilitation of the injured worker. Alice Hamilton would be proud to have this honor awarded to Ms. Webster."

Webster has worked at the Research Center for more than 17 years. Her research and publications have included treatment protocols for acute and chronic low back pain; epidemiology and cost studies on low back pain, cumulative trauma disorders and non-fatal workplace violence; and studies to develop engineering guidelines to prevent cumulative trauma disorders.

Currently, her work includes a survey-based investigation of physicians' practice decisions for patients with acute work-related low back pain. She is also conducting a study of the costs associated with work-related spinal cord injuries.

Webster earned a B.S. degree in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College and a Physician Associate degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. Prior to coming to the Research Center, she worked as a physician assistant in an occupational medicine clinic and in a rehabilitation program for industrial low back pain patients. She has been published in Spine, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, American Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Ergonomics.

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