Distinguished scientist Dr. David Michaels is the official assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, presiding over Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab, who had been the interim OSHA overseer. Michaels was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, and then sworn in on Dec. 9, 2009.
Michaels is a former research professor and interim chair in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. His studies have included examining the hazards facing construction workers, printers and other worker-groups.
From 1998-2001 he served as assistant secretary of energy for environment, safety and health in the Department of Energy (DOE) and was responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and environment surrounding the country's nuclear weapons facilities. According to a recent VPPPA (Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association) Safety News Network article, it was during his time with the DOE that the DOE Voluntary Protection Program was launched.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, "Dr. Michaels is an important addition to help with my goal of good jobs for everyone. Good jobs are safe jobs."
Michaels is expected to amp up the agency's worker-protection efforts, which among other things is likely to involve the implementation of more employee-training programs.
It will be interesting to see what changes take effect for OSHA and America’s workplaces in the coming months.