AIHA Calls for Howards Reappointment as NIOSH Director

As John Howard’s 6-year term as the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approaches its conclusion in July 2008, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) called for a swift reappointment.

In a letter to the Honorable Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, AIHA President Donald Hart urged him not to delay the decision to reappoint Howard to this important post. It is a decision, Hart said, that could influence workplace safety.

“I am writing to ask that you give serious consideration to a matter that affects the health and safety of workers across the country,” he wrote.

NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. The AIHA-NIOSH partnership advances the protection of workers, promotes best practices and encourages employers to develop and use occupational health and safety management systems and effective prevention strategies and technologies.

According to AIHA, Howard is highly regarded among health and safety professionals and has a solid grasp of the issues. Hart listed various NIOSH accomplishments Howard achieved during his tenure, including:

  • Establishing the “Research to Practice (r2p)” program to help communicate NIOSH-generated knowledge to partners and stakeholders;
  • Providing access to NIOSH research and results through use of electronic communications;
  • Positioning NIOSH as one of the key partners in the National Nanotechnology Initiative by recognizing the potential importance of nanotechnology;
  • Assuring that policy decisions were grounded in and based on sound science;
  • Instituting an evaluation program for NIOSH;
  • Managing the agency effectively while fostering basic values.

“In closing, I urge you to reappoint Dr. John Howard as Director of NIOSH. Do not allow the enormous success of the past six years to go stale or the on-going efforts to be delayed,” Hart wrote. “Dr. Howard has strong, capable leadership; is respected by NIOSH employees, partners and stakeholders; and has undoubtedly improved the health and safety of workers. Do not let this success languish for even one minute.”

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