I certainly agree that Vanessa Sutherland's stewardship of the CSB has been a vast improvement over that of her predecessor. It still remains to be seen how much of that legacy can be overcome.
"Mike Wright" <mwright**At_Symbol_Here**USW.ORG>To:
Friday, September 2, 2016 5:55:53 PMSubject:
Re: [DCHAS-L] C&EN article: The uneven world of chemical accident investigation
We have very extensive experience with the CSB. In fact, our union is their biggest customer. More CSB investigations have been done at USW worksites than those of any other union, or any company.
It's important to distinguish between the CSB of the Moure-Eraso years and the organization that Vanessa Sutherland and her colleagues are working to renew. The former CSB had just about the lowest levels of morale in the federal government. Their decisions about what to investigate appeared to us to be politically motivated. Some investigations were started and never completed. Dr. Moure-Eraso and the Managing Director were the subject of a negative IG report, and were severely criticized in Congress by both Republican and Democratic legislators. One Board Member quit in disgust; another was systematically excluded from effective decision-making. In the end, the president asked for Moure-Eraso's resignation, and the Managing Director and General Counsel were terminated. Meanwhile, the CSB had managed to offend many of the federal, state and local agencies they interacted with, often by asserting that they should have primary jurisdiction over an accident site. They floate!
d federal legislation that would do that; it never went anywhere. At one point a high CSB official even suggested that they take over mine accident investigations. Let me make it clear that these criticisms pertain only to the past Board Chair and senior administrators. The CSB's investigators and other staff are dedicated, competent and professional; they did the best job they could under the circumstances.
The current situation is like night and day. Board Chair Sutherland and the other Board members and senior staff are vigorously changing the agency for the better, but the legacy of the previous five years will take time to overcome.
Michael J. Wright
Director of Health, Safety and Environment
See us on the web at www.usw.org
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Ralph Stuart
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2016 8:13 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] C&EN article: The uneven world of chemical accident investigation
> > My personal experience is that I have yet to encounter any fans of the CSB at other federal agencies.
That's an interesting aspect of the CSB challenge and I think relates to the nature of its mission, i.e. not enforcement, but rather identification of system issues related to the incident in the largest sense. This means that it often addresses issues that other federal agencies can't due to their limited jurisdictions or enforcement mandates. This creates a "safety culture" that distinctly different than the one that CSB tries to model (i.e. learning rather than blaming). I've seen the same challenge arise in bureaucracies that I've worked in and with. I guess that's one reason that we have job security ;).
Ralph Stuart, CIH