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'Regulator of the year' resurfaces

Ever wonder what happens to old OSHA chiefs? Well, here's one for you: The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has selected former Assistant Secretary of Labor Charles N. Jeffress as Chief Operating Officer, the agency's senior civil service official, ending a two-and-a-half year period of interim administration.

Jeffress served as OSHA chief from 1997 to 2001. Named Business Week magazine's "Regulator of the Year" in 2001 (is that good or bad?), Jeffress is best (or worst) remembered for his role in trying to push through a controversial ergonomics standard in the waning days of the Clinton administration. The standard was later overturned by Congress.

"We are delighted that Mr. Jeffress has decided to join our management team," said Board Member Dr. Gerald Poje, CSB's interim executive. Poje called Jeffress "one of the most widely respected leaders throughout the safety community." OSHA sources say Jeffress enjoyed the rough and tumble of Washington politics, and agency staffers will tell you he was one of the friendliest and accessible of all OSHA leaders.

Before heading OSHA, Jeffress directed the North Carolina state OSHA program. He was credited with improving the standing of the agency following a disastrous workplace fire with multiple fatalities in a poultry processing plant in the state. Jeffress is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and holds management certificates from UNC and Harvard University.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board is a federal agency created by Congress to determine root causes of chemical accidents and issue safety recommendations. The CSB dispatches a team of investigators to the scene of a chemical accident to perform an initial investigation. The CSB may then decide to launch a full investigation. If a full investigation is conducted, CSB investigators work to determine the root causes of the accident. From the results of its investigations and studies, the CSB issues recommendations to agencies, organizations and companies. The CSB does not assess blame or levy fines. Information about the CSB may be found at http://www.chemsafety.gov.

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