The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is questioning President Obama’s choice to head OSHA.
The Chamber sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of two Senate committees, asking for hearings on David Michaels’ nomination.
Michaels is a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health.
In the letter, Chamber President Bruce Josten notes that Michaels’ book, Doubt is Their Product, criticizes industry groups that raise questions about various regulations and the science underlying them.
Josten cites the ergonomics standard that was enacted at the end of the Clinton administration but overturned by Congress in 2001.
The letter states, “Instead of acknowledging that the scientific and medical record relied upon for this regulation left many questions necessary to issue a regulation unanswered … he described the science as settled and the efforts by business advocates to raise concerns about the science as nothing more than a delaying tactic.”
Josten also questions the way Michaels views the role of compliance assistance in workplace safety. And the Chamber wants Michaels to state whether he accepts data showing that workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities are at all time lows.
OSHA just started a National Emphasis Program on recordkeeping which will send inspectors to facilities with low injury rates that are in high-injury industries. Reason: OSHA wants to check whether companies are under-reporting injuries.
Jordan Barab is acting OSHA administrator. When a permanent head is named, he’ll assume the No. 2 position at the agency.