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  • ACOEM Urges President Obama to Appoint John Howard Head of OSHA

    February 13, 2009

    The Honorable Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear President Obama:

    On behalf of the American College of Occupational and Environment Medicine (ACOEM), I am writing to express our strong support for the appointment of Dr. John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. His appointment will be a major step forward for occupational safety and health in this country.

    Although there are several individuals who are well qualified to serve as Assistant Secretary, ACOEM believes that Dr. Howard will be an exceptional Assistant Secretary. He brings to OSHA an impressive background as an accomplished leader in occupational safety and health as a scientist, policy leader, highly capable administrator, and professional colleague. 

    We have great admiration and respect for the professionalism that Dr. Howard exhibited during his tenure as Director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Dr. Howard came to NIOSH from California's Department of Industrial Relations where he was chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. There, he oversaw the state’s occupational safety programs. His appointment to NIOSH chief in 2002 was applauded by industry and labor leaders.

    At NIOSH, Dr. Howard achieved outstanding progress leading the nation’s principal agency for occupational safety and health research. His leadership revitalized NIOSH, allowing the Institute to focus on critical new needs of occupational safety and health research. Dr. Howard enjoyed broad and enthusiastic support from labor, industry, professional associations and Congress while he served at NIOSH, praised for his creative and dedicated leadership.

    He will bring to OSHA this same kind of forward-thinking leadership. Dr. Howards’s unique perspective, gained from his background as both a scientist and medical professional, will be invaluable as OSHA strives to protect workers from workplace exposures. His innovative approach will energize OSHA, allowing the agency to move ahead in accomplishing its mission to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.

    ACOEM represents nearly 5,000 physicians specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. Founded in 1916, ACOEM is the nation's largest medical society dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education.

    In closing, Dr. John Howard has outstanding leadership abilities, which are widely recognized and respected by occupational health and public health practitioners. He also has superlative national and international experience and knowledge, both in medicine and in public policy, I ask you to appoint Dr. Howard to the Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Safety and Health.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Robert Orford, MD

    cc: The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
          The Honorable Michael B. Enzi