John Howard to Head NIOSH

We've just learned that Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be announcing later this afternoon that John Howard, MD has been selected to lead the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Dr. Howard headed NIOSH for six years during George W. Bush's administration, and both the American Society of Safety Engineers and the American Industrial Hygiene Association appealed unusccessfully to then-CDC Director Julie Gerberding to extend his tenure.

An interesting side note is that, assuming David Michaels is confirmed to head OSHA, there will be two George Washington University faculty members heading US occupational health agencies. (Dr. Howard is a limited-service faculty member here in the Environmental & Occupational Health Department.)


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having a less than stellar record of occupational safety and health would be most bystanders opinion of 8 years of george bush. what prompted sebellius to re-appoint a former cronie of that loser to head NIOSH (an important agency to safeguard workers in this country)? though i'm sure it is politically motivated. i bought into obama's call for change. looks to me like it's business as usual, and because of the demise of the labor unions the american worker gets the bad end of the stick again.

John Howard a former crony of George Bush? Do we live on the same planet? I'm delighted about this appointment. Just read an earlier Pump Handle post:…. Now, NIOSH may be able to raise the funds needed to really help workers - for example, by helping states establish and/or enrich occupational public health programs, and by funding nanotechnology research. The list goes on.

"An interesting side note is that, assuming David Michaels is confirmed to head OSHA, there will be two George Washington University faculty members heading US occupational health agencies."

GWU has had some interesting characters involved in steering the direction of US health policy of occupational and environmental medicine. Dr. Tee Guidotti, who used to head the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinic (AOEC) located there along with the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) is a good example.

After a little misunderstanding about how much lead is safe in the drinking water of DC according to Dr. Guidotti..and how sentences magically reappeared in an EHP article on the subject, Dr. Guidotti stepped down from these posts.

I am not really familiar with the work of John Howard, but I do have to say that it concerns me a bit he came so highly recommended by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). This is the workers' comp docs' trade organization of which Dr. Guidotti is a former President.

They are noted to be a professional organization in service to industry. Dr. Michael's writes of their journal no less than four times in his book "Doubt is their product".

Also, from what I have witnesses over the past several years, NIOSH has not carried a stellar record of protecting worker safety, especially when it comes to environmental exposures. So time will tell if Dr. Howard represents true change or if the workers comp insurance system will run on the same ole corrupt system of denial while NIOSH looks the other way.

At least for the most part, GWU seems to offer more honor driven medical professionals than the boys from Emory who controlled much of NIOSH in the 90's.

By Sharon Kramer (not verified) on 04 Sep 2009 #permalink

In California, Howard was well-repected by both labor and business. I always thought he was a fair straight shooter. Howard at NIOSH is a good thing for saafety and health, in my opinion. I think his background at a relatively active state plan will help give NIOSH perspective. Yes he was appointed by George W (and both CA Govs. Pete Wilson-R and Gray Davis-D) but don't hold that against him!

By Dave Smith (not verified) on 08 Sep 2009 #permalink