“I find it baffling he was not reappointed,” said Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), during an interview with Occupational Hazards. “But it's also not surprising.”
Trippler alluded to possible tension between Howard and Gerberding as a factor in the decision. “He and Gerberding probably did not get along,” Trippler said. “It's not surprising she did not reappoint him.”
The timing of Howard's departure is further complicated by the upcoming presidential election and possible future administration changes. Trippler said he was concerned that losing Howard as NIOSH director will create even more turbulence during a transitional period.
“I suspect we're going to see some changes for next year. Obviously, we're going to see some changes in the Department of Labor,” Trippler said. “That's why I think it would have been absolutely imperative to keep the status quo at NIOSH.”
In recent months, AIHA and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) separately urged President George W. Bush to renew Howard's NIOSH appointment.