The 50 Most Influential EHS Leaders: Love Them or Despise Them, These Are the 50 People the Editors of Occupational Hazards Feel Have Had the Most Impact on EHS in the Past Decade

By Smith, Sandy | Occupational Hazards, September 2008 | Go to article overview

The 50 Most Influential EHS Leaders: Love Them or Despise Them, These Are the 50 People the Editors of Occupational Hazards Feel Have Had the Most Impact on EHS in the Past Decade


Smith, Sandy, Occupational Hazards


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When we began the daunting task of trying to name the 50 most influential (living) EHS leaders, we worried that we would have difficulty coming up with that many names. Soon, we realized that we easily could name 100 leaders or more, particularly if we opened it up to international representatives.

While there are some international EHS leaders on this list--based on their impact on EHS worldwide and therefore on the United States and U.S.-based multinational companies as a result--most of the names are well-known among EHS professionals in this country. The list includes government appointees, academics, union EHS leaders, legislators, company-based EHS professionals, the presidents of professional associations, safety industry leaders, safety "gurus" and worker advocates. They all have one thing in common: Through their work, their mentoring, their lecturing, their lawmaking, their research, their administration or their advocacy, they have had a strong and lasting impact on EHS in the workplace.

The Government Appointees

Edwin Foulke Jr. was named OSHA Administrator by President George W. Bush in 2005 and sworn in as the head of the agency on April 3, 2006. Prior to his nomination, Foulke was a partner with the law firm of Jackson Lewis, LLP in Greenville, S.C., and Washington, D.C., where he chaired the OSHA practice group. He also previously served on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Workplace Health and Safety Committee for the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Dr. John Howard served as the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from July 2002 through July 2008, when his 6-year term ended without being renewed in a controversial decision that brought criticism from safety and health stakeholders. He is serving a short-term assignment as senior advisor to the CDC director. Prior to his NIOSH appointment, Howard served as the chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in California's Department of Industrial Relations and was an assistant professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of California.

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John Henshaw, CIH, MPH, is president of Henshaw and Associates Inc., a safety and health professional services firm in Florida. A former president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, Henshaw was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001 to head OSHA, where his greatest impact was his emphasis on outreach, education and compliance assistance. Henshaw also served as the director of environment, safety and health for Astaris LLC and Solutia Inc., and was the corporate director of quality and compliance assurance for Monsanto Co.

Horace A. Thompson is chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which provides adjudication of workplace safety and health disputes between the Department of Labor and employers. Before being nominated to serve on the commission, Thompson was an attorney with Watkins, Ludlam, Winter & Stennis and served as co-chair of the firm's labor and employment law practice group.

Stephen L. Johnson was sworn in on May 2, 2005, as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He leads that agency's efforts to protect human health and the environment, managing more than 17,000 agency employees nationwide and overseeing an annual budget of $7.7 billion.

Richard E. Stickler was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health on Oct. 19, 2006. Prior to his appointment as acting MSHA administrator, Stickler was director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety from 1997 to 2003.

Jerry Scannell was nominated to serve as assistant secretary of labor--OSHA by President George Bush on June 21, 1989. …

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