AIHA Suggests Qualifications for OSHA Administrator

In Nov. 24 a letter to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) suggested several qualifications the next OSHA administrator should possess when addressing today’s complex occupational health and safety issues.

According to AIHA, the individual chosen to lead OSHA should meet, at a minimum:

  • A lifelong commitment to occupational health and safety;
  • Comprehensive training in occupational health and safety;
  • At least 15 years of technical experience in occupational health and safety;
  • Proven management experience; and
  • The vision and ability to build coalitions and consensus among diverse groups to effectively promote occupational health and safety.

“We recognize that many factors will come into play in the final selection of the successful nominee,” wrote AIHA President Lindsay E. Booher, CIH, CSP. “However, as the workplace continues to change and become more diversified, as well as the continuing global expansion of workplace health and safety, AIHA believes the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA could be one of the most important appointments of the new administration. The worker health and safety agenda is a long one and the new Assistant Secretary must be an individual able to carry out one of the major themes of the Obama-Biden campaign, that being an ability to bring diverse viewpoints together.”

The letter also referenced AIHA’s recent public policy issue survey, which highlights the top workplace safety issues AIHA members believe should be addressed in the Obama administration. The top general issues include updating permissible exposure limits; adopting the Globally Harmonized System; and nanotechnology. The top OSHA-specific issues include a combustible dust standard; ergonomics; and safety and health programs. (See AIHA Survey Names Top Health and Safety Issues).

“AIHA believes there are numerous individuals who meet the qualifications to serve as Assistant Secretary and hope you carefully consider the qualifications before making an appointment,” the letter added.

Edwin Foulke Jr. resigned as OSHA administrator Nov. 7, 2008, and was replaced by Thomas M. Stohler. Currently, no nominees for the appointment under the Obama administration have been revealed.
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