OSHA moves one step closer to filling permanent director post
If confirmed, epidemiologist David Michaels would become the assistant department of labor secretary for the agency. He would step in for Jordan Barab, who was appointed as OSHA's acting assistant secretary in April. The agency has not had a permanent director since Edwin Foulke Jr. resigned in late 2008.
Michaels is a research professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services' Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. The Obama administration noted that he has conducted numerous studies on the health effects of occupational exposure to toxic chemicals, including asbestos, metals and solvents, and has written extensively on science and regulatory policy. Michaels previously served as assistant secretary of energy for environment, safety and health in the Clinton administration.
In an article written earlier this year for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, Michaels outlined several recommendations for improving OSHA, including issuing a workplace injury and illness prevention program rule. Under the proposed rule, Michaels said employers would be required to develop and follow their own hazard identification abatement plan using recommendations published by OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and other trade groups. Michaels also said the agency should increase funding for safety training and develop an electronic recordkeeping and reporting system.
Safety advocates and labor unions praised the nomination.
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August 27, 2009
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