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August 6, 2003

Sean O'Keefe
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Two Independence Square
300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546

RE: Comments on Establishment of NASA Engineering and Safety Center

Dear Mr. O'Keefe:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) applauds the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for taking what we believe is a necessary step in ensuring safety and health in NASA by establishing an independent Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) at the agency's Langley Research Center. As we understand the goal of this decision, the NESC will provide NASA with the centralized ability to conduct comprehensive examinations of all NASA programs and projects and coordinate safety and engineering assessment programs throughout the agency.

ASSE's 30,000 members, which includes some NASA employees, are occupational safety, health and environmental professionals committed to seeing that every American worker has the best possible opportunity to go home each day healthy and safe from their jobs. The kind of centralization of analysis and information capabilities that we hope the NESC will provide NASA matches what our members would recommend to help bring about improved safety and health in any large organization. ASSE also makes the following recommendations.

First, to be successful, ASSE urges you to ensure that the NESC truly can function as an independent resource within NASA. In any organization, before a culture of safety can be developed, a culture of openness and candor must not only be encouraged but also demanded by management. Without the ability to act in an impartial manner and to bring attention to risks with a belief that the organization will listen, any effort to provide safety and health analysis cannot succeed.

Second, ASSE urges that you choose leaders in this effort who have demonstrated the necessary professional safety, health and environmental qualifications. Individuals with accredited certifications such as Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs) and Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) have demonstrated the necessary professional expertise and experience in their achievement of these certifications. NASA's employees deserve the best protections these professionals can provide.

Finally, and most importantly, ASSE hopes that the NESC provides NASA with a better means of integrating safety and health into the entire organization. The NESC should help ensure that every employee, from you down to an entry-level position, is responsible and held accountable for safety and health at NASA. If this or any effort to improve NASA's safety record is to succeed, it will be because safety and health is treated as importantly as any other management responsibility such as technology, finance, or human resources.

ASSE stands ready to assist you and NASA in seeing that the NESC succeeds. If our members can be of any help as the work of the NESC proceeds, we would be happy to help you to involve them.

Respectfully submitted,

James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP

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