Dr. John Howard, NIOSH director in 2002-2008 and reappointed on Sept. 3, 2009

Howard Reappointed to Lead NIOSH

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Howard's selection today. OSH professional societies had pushed for him to be returned to NIOSH's top post.

Major good news for the safety and health industry and its professional members came Thursday afternoon when CDC delivered the announcement of Dr. John Howard's return as NIOSH director. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reappointed Howard, effective immediately, bringing to fruition the hopes of several OSH professional societies who were dismayed when he was not retained as director in 2008.

Howard is very well qualified. A lawyer, MPH, and fomer head of Cal/OSHA, he is board certified in internal medicine, legal medicine, and occuptional medicine. He focused NIOSH on nanotechnology (he shares co-author credit for a current post on the NIOSH Science Blog titled "Occupational Disease and Nanoparticles" calling into question a paper's attribution of severe illnesses in several Chinese workers to nanoparticle exposure) and emerging hazards and also brought about a vigorous self-examination process whereby NIOSH and its Board of Scientific Counselors reviewed National Academies reports examining NIOSH's programs and performance. NIOSH is part of CDC within the Department of Health and Human Services.

"All workers should be protected against all known job and workplace hazards," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frienden said in the reappointment statement issued by HHS today. "Dr. John Howard is one of the nation's leaders in occupational health and worker safety. He's worked with the scientists, medical professionals, and workers to effectively lead investigations into new and potential health hazards, and to address workplace health and safety concerns. Importantly, he brings to this position the dedication and passion needed to achieve the safest workplacee possible."

Howard also will be coordinator of World Trade Center Programs for HHS. The agency in 2002 began administering more than $125 million that Congress provided for screening some 50,000 responders, volunteers, and recovery workers who had been present at the scene after 9/i1. Howard, who was also coordinator in 2006-2008, helped to obtain more than $390 million for treatment and worked with medical proessionals to develop a treatment plan, according to HHS.

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