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Former NIOSH director stays in the game (6/25)

June 25, 2009
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Former NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM, who was reported to be on the short list of candidates for the OSHA chief job in the Obama administration before dropping from contention, perhaps in part due to his service in the Bush administration, is still alive and well in Washington. Dr. Howard still mans a desk at NIOSH/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and according to some sources, is interested in returning to his old NIOSH post.

Dr. Howard also remains active articulating his vision for the future of occupational safety and health, speaking at an association meeting of safety equipment manufacturers late last year and an American Society of Safety Engineers webinar early in 2009.

He will be presenting an opening session talk at the PCIH 2009, sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Academy of Industrial Hygiene, to be held October 3-6, Vancouver, British Columbia.

The title of his talk: “Insights on the Best Way Forward: The Future of Occupational Safety and Health.” According to program notes, Dr. Howard will discuss changes to the workforce, employment relationships, the nature of work, and the management of governmental safety and health agencies in the 21st century.

Dr. Howard will give a second presentation in Vancouver, on “Global Governance of Occupational Risk.” According to program notes: “Increasingly, multinational companies have to comply with rules to prevent occupational risk that are made by the countries in which they operate, by their national origin country like the U.S., and a myriad of consensus standards from international organizations. Dr. Howard will discuss the trends in international risk prevention and how an occupational safety and health practitioner should advise their client.”

During the ASSE webinar this past January, Dr. Howard emphasized the changing world of work relationships and the nature of work. “Maybe the OSH Act should be revisited and updated to reflect these changes,” he said.

He also suggested the next head of OSHA meet with the Secretary of Commerce to stress the importance of integrating workplace safety, health and environmental programs into new infrastructure programs.

Dr. Howard’s vision for the future of occupational safety and health is holistic. He seeks to remove barriers between on and off the job safety and health, raise the profile and importance of employer health promotion and wellness efforts, says its past time to tackle organizational or cultural issues such as job-related stress, and takes a “world is flat” approach to occupational safety and health reg

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