On December 10, 2021, the Senate confirmed two new Board Members
to the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), Stephen Owens and Sylvia Johnson. CSB is an independent Federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents to identify root causes and recommend safety improvements.
The CSB Chairperson, Katherine A. Lemos “looks forward to working with them to build a strong and diverse Board, adding to the skilled technical resources and community advocacy voices as we perform our valuable work.”
CSB, which is supposed to have five members, has been operating as a "quorum of one" since May 2020. No new board members were appointed during the previous administration.
What Do CSB Board Members Do?
Board Members serve five-year terms and hold extensive responsibilities, including:
- Act as spokespersons at accident sites;
- Conduct community meetings;
- Hold hearings and boards of inquiry during accident investigations;
- Participate in conferences, committees, and safety forums;
- Meet with leaders of other federal agencies;
- Contribute written works to scholarly journals and trade publications; and
- Present papers at professional meetings and other venues.
The CSB investigative staff includes specialists in the private and public sectors with diverse knowledge and experience in the chemical and mechanical engineering fields and safety management. They conduct the day-to-day operations regarding investigations and prepare draft reports.
The CSB does not issue notices of violations or impose fines and penalties. Rather, the agency makes safety recommendations based on their accident investigations to potentially affected facilities; industry organizations and associations; labor groups; and to regulatory agencies like OSHA and EPA.
Meet the New CSB Board Members
, Attorney at law, has been recognized by the National Law Journal
as an “Energy and Environmental Trailblazer.” Owens served as US EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention during the Obama administration.
Owens managed programs pertaining to pesticides and industrial chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and other regulatory programs.
Sylvia E. Johnson
, PhD. is currently a lobbyist for the National Education Association. Previously, lobbied for the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.
Johnson was an occupational epidemiologist in the United Auto Workers’ health and safety department. During the Senate hearings she said, “I worked with labor and management. I have investigated chemical accidents. I have trained workers on how to remain safe from chemicals, how to safely store chemicals.”