Business community pushes for hearing on Obama's nominee to head OSHA
The National Association of Manufacturers and the Coalition for Workplace Safety recently sent letters to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urging lawmakers to hold a hearing on the president's selection of epidemiologist David Michaels for the position of assistant secretary of labor for the agency. The groups told the committee members that they want the opportunity to question Michaels on a range of issues, including his position on regulating work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Michaels, a research professor at George Washington University, has previously noted that ergonomics risks were the leading cause of workplace injuries and that OSHA had not developed a standard to adequately "protect workers from the hazard of poorly-designed work settings." Health and safety experts believe that Democrats may try to resurrect the Clinton administration's national ergonomics standard, which was repealed shortly after President George W. Bush took office.
"Michaels has advocated for more government regulation, even when the available science and data to support such regulations is inadequate or unsettled," the coalition wrote. "Because workplace safety is everyone's concern and we are committed to working with OSHA to meet our shared goal of improving safety in the workplace, we believe a hearing is warranted to thoroughly explore Professor Michael's views on key areas of OSHA operations, the direction the agency will take, and how his professional career might influence the decisions he would make in this position."
Although confirmation hearings for the position are common, nothing has been scheduled for Michaels, who was nominated in July.
"With the Obama administration indicating an aggressive agenda for OSHA, Michaels' nomination should be treated no differently than the other nominees who were given a hearing," the group said.
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November 5, 2009
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