More than seven months after the departure of its previous director, Linda Rosenstock, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) has begun the search for her permanent replacement.
A NIOSH spokesperson said it would likely take another six to 12 months before the position is filled.
A vacancy announcement was posted earlier this month, and the agency will accept applications until mid-August.
NIOSH''s current acting director, Kathleen Rest, is the agency''s second since the departure of Rosenstock. Rest replaced the previous acting director, Lawrence Fine, earlier this year.
This kind of high-level job rotation is standard policy for Jeffrey Koplan, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a NIOSH spokesperson. Koplan, who as head of CDC oversees NIOSH as well as a number of other public health government research institutes, believes it is a good idea for upper management personnel to gain first-hand experience about the top job in their agencies. It may also be a way to assess the performance of Rest and Fine: sources at NIOSH say both are believed to be candidates for the top job.
"It is a terrible policy," said one NIOSH source, who asked not to be identified, lamenting the disruption caused by having a series of different directors over the course of a year. Other NIOSH sources pointed out that an acting director behaves differently than he or she would if given the position on a permanent basis.
The permanent director position is open to people working inside and outside of NIOSH, including public health service commissioned officers and those with senior executive service reinstatement eligibility. Information on how to apply can be found at www2.cdc.gov/hrmo/viewdetailSES.asp?AnnouncementNumber=10-01-018
Rest addressed the biannual National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Symposium June 27, in Washington, D.C.
"NORA has never been stronger," Rest declared, as she explained the achievements of the five-year old program. "I refuse to say NORA is in a mid-life crisis."
The purpose of NORA, is to advance national partnerships among industry, labor, academia, and government in occupational safety and health research. Other symposium attendees agreed with Rest that NORA, originally created by Rosenstock, has been so successful it is likely to continue on without the former NIOSH director. Rosenstock, who is now the dean of the School of Public Health at UCLA, did not attend the one-day event.
The symposium showcased research projects and the 2001 Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety was presented to the Oregon State Department of Human Services, Health Division.
The winning partnership project was entitled, "A Strategic Plan for Reducing Occupational Dermatitis in Oregon," and it initiated a disease tracking system that identified a high number of plant-induced dermatitis cases in the agriculture and forestry industry. The project also uncovered latex glove-related dermatitis cases in non-health care workers.
by James Nash