At some point in every technical organization, technical experts find themselves reporting to someone who knows less that they do of their technical area. That does not suggest that the top level person lacking technical expertise is unqualified for the job. As you go higher in a hierarchy, technical ability becomes less important and the ability to support and facilitate (find and marshal resources needed by the technical experts) becomes more important.
Yes, you know all that. But that is why an attorney without a heavy industrial or lab background may be an effective chair of CSB. (No guarantee, of course)
As to that time with Altria, remember that the legal ethic is very different from the scientific ethic. Ethical attorneys are expected to provide their best efforts in support of the client in adversarial proceedings, even if the attorney knows the client is “guilty.” The scientific ethic seeks demonstrable truth, regardless of who pays, although that ethic has been degraded over the last few decades by contaminating bleed from the legal ethic.
Peter Zavon, CIH
I'll crawl out on a limb here and comment on something I know little about.
How does this resume qualify someone to lead the CSB? http://www.allgov.com/news/appointments-and-resignations/chair-of-the-chemical-safety-and-hazard-investigation-board-who-is-vanessa-allen-sutherland-150329?news=856087
Opinion mode on: Ms Sutherland apparently worked for Altria aka Philip Morris from 2004 to 2011 = 7 years. In other words, she used her tremendous talent to defend an industry which, using CDC stats, caused 3.36 million premature deaths in the US alone during her tenure at Altria, plus millions more internationally. Can someone who works at a chemical plant, refinery or laboratory tell me with a straight face that this is the person they want to protect their lives and safety?
Even putting that aside, her limited experience as counsel at DOT doesn't pass my litmus test. I want someone with background and experience in chemical safety process management, an advanced science degree, and/or investigatory experience etc. to lead the CSB. I feel really sad for the (awesome) investigative staff at CSB right now.
Ow, my head hurts trying to understand this appointment!
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On May 27, 2015, at 11:33 AM, Debbie M. Decker <dmdecker**At_Symbol_Here**UCDAVIS.EDU> wrote:
Hi and Hello:
I’d like to hear input from the Division on the two questions (below) posed by the CSB for discussion at their upcoming public meeting(s).
Washington, DC, May 12, 2015 - Today the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced that the board will host two public meetings in June 2015 in order to increase dialogue with CSB stakeholders.
The first meeting will bring together stakeholders from industry, labor, trade, professional associations, and environmental organizations on Wednesday, June 10th -- location to be announced shortly. The meeting will begin at 9:00 am and will include discussion focusing on two main issues:
· Emerging safety issues/what should the CSB be looking at in its strategic plan?
· How can the CSB optimize its investigations and recommendations?
Tell me what you think!
Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
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