John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM, James P. Keogh Award 2009
Dr. John Howard is currently serving as a distinguished consultant in the Public Health Law Program at CDC. Dr. Howard was the sixth Director of NIOSH and served in this capacity from 2002 to 2008. Prior to joining NIOSH, Dr. Howard provided outstanding service as the Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in California’s Department of Industrial Relations. His work there was hailed as one of the most proactive health and safety programs.
Dr. Howard exemplifies the Keogh Award’s goal of outstanding service in occupational safety and health through his leadership and efforts to make the nation’s primary investment in occupational safety and health information, research, and guidance more relevant to workers and employers in the U.S. and around the world. During his tenure at NIOSH, Dr. Howard was tireless in his desire to improve the relevance, impact, and stakeholder responsiveness of NIOSH research through strong and effective partnerships with labor and industry. He was highly instrumental in fostering partnerships that support and participate in achieving these goals. He was a champion of strong research to practice efforts in order to assure that NIOSH research is translated into meaningful advances for workers. He continually anticipated the needs of workers. For example, he was one of the first people in the world to identify and move to address the occupational hazards associated with nanotechnology. Dr. Howard also supported the development of a major initiative to design out hazards when designing tools, processes, and structures. This Prevention through Design Initiative is a seven year national effort involving a wide range of partners from industry, labor, academia, government, and others to institutionalize the concept of thinking about worker health and safety in any design. Dr. Howard promoted a broad inclusionary view bringing all stakeholders into the dialog to solve workplace safety and health problems, supported the focus on the Hispanic workforce and the need to target programs to vulnerable populations, and strongly promoted a global view towards occupational safety and health. Workers around the world have benefitted from his leadership.
The changes directed by Dr. Howard have resulted in an increased focus of information to prevent work-related disease and injury. His efforts have affected workers by ensuring the priorities of NIOSH align with the most important issues concerning worker safety and health. Dr. Howard’s commitment to occupational safety and health has been amply demonstrated by his work at high levels of government. Throughout his career, he has made state and federal institutions more responsive to the needs of workers through ongoing systemic changes in research, policy, and practice.