A final decision on a permanent director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is still months away, according to acting director Kathleen Rest.
Speaking at the Nov. 28 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), Rest said the search committee had narrowed the number of candidates down from 30 applications to about a dozen finalists. The process was delayed a month by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, she explained.
Whoever is finally selected will be the fourth person to lead NIOSH since the departure of the previous permanent director, Linda Rosenstock, who left NIOSH in October 2000 to be dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Lawrence Fine was then named acting director, only to be replaced a few months later by Rest.
At the NACOSH meeting, Rest said Fine had left NIOSH to accept a position at the National Institute of Health. Fine played a prominent role in defending the scientific basis for ergonomics rulemaking during the 2000 public hearings on OSHA''s ill-fated ergonomics standard.
Rest told NACOSH members she was "optimistic" that before the next NACOSH meeting, NIOSH will have a permanent director. In an interview with Occupational Hazards after her presentation, Rest said this meant it would be "a matter of months" before the search committee completes its work.
by James Nash