A methodology to predict shock and vibration levels that could lead to the failure of MEMS devices is reported as a function of vibration frequency and shock pulse duration. A combined experimental–analytical approach is developed, maintaining the simplicity and insightfulness of analytical methods without compromising on the accuracy characteristic of experimental methods. The minimum frequency-dependent acceleration that will lead to surfaces coming into contact, for vibration or shock inputs, is determined based on measured mode shapes, damping, resonant frequencies, and an analysis of failure modes, thus defining a safe operating region, without requiring shock or vibration testing. This critical acceleration for failure is a strong function of drive voltage, and the safe operating region is predicted for transport (unbiased) and operation (biased condition). The model was experimentally validated for overdamped and underdamped modes of a comb-drive driven SOI-based tunable grating. In-plane and outofplane vibration (up to 65 g) and shock (up to 6000 g) tests were performed for biased and unbiased conditions, and very good agreement was found between predicted and observed critical accelerations.