You probably have never heard of the Chemical Safety Board (unless you are a specialist in that area — or you read The Pump Handle!). The CSB is an independent government agency that has a pretty low profile. Its mission, as its name implies, is to investigate industrial chemical accidents. The CSB is important enough, however, to have its Board members subject to Senate confirmation. CSB was authorized under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments but didn’t become operational until 1998. Thus it has lived most of its life obscured in the shadow of the Bush administration. Now things have changed. Under the Obama administration, there is renewed interest in serving in this agency.
There are two open slots on the CSB, and The Pump Handle has already highlighted a fine candidate for one of them, Mark Griffon. Now another terrific candidate has come forward, Dr.Anthony Robbins, one of the country’s most distinguished public health practitioners. Robbins’s resumé seems made to order for a slot on the CSB. In my view, he’d make a terrific Chair. When he was Director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) he fought many battles to protect workers and their communities. He is widely respected in public health circles, having led two state health departments (Vermont and Colorado), been an academic (Chair in Public Health at Tufts Medical School), served as editor-in-chief of two peer-reviewed public health journals (currently editor of the Journal of Public Health Policy) and is a past-President of the American Public Health Association (APHA). He’d be the first public health physician on the board.
Both Robbins and Griffon are superb candidates for a Board that deserves superb candidates. Robbins’s interest in the position of Chair suggests the tremendous potential the CSB has as the industrial accident analog to the National Transportation Safety Board, the high profile agency that investigates air and rail disasters. The CSB has had wonderful and dedicated members in the past, but the Obama era may finally allow the expanded scope and visibility it needs to investigate the root causes of industrial accidents that kill workers and endanger their communities.
An embarrassment of riches. I hope both make it onto the Board, and we want to give a special plug for Robbins as Chair.