David Michaels is expected to start work as the head of OSHA later this week.
President Obama’s nominee to head the occupational safety agency had been held up in the Senate, which finally confirmed him late last week.
Michaels will take over from Jordan Barab, who’s been the acting head of OSHA in the Obama administration. Barab will now become the No. 2 person at OSHA.
Michaels was a professor at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
Two years ago, in testimony before Congress, Michaels characterized OSHA as weak, unmotivated, understaffed, heavily impeded and generally ineffective.
Michaels also made his views about business clear in a 2005 article and subsequent book, Doubt is Their Product. Michaels wrote, “Never in our history have corporate interests been as successful as they are today in shaping science policies to their desires.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce questioned Obama’s choice of Michaels to head OSHA.
In a letter, Chamber President Bruce Josten said, regarding the ergonomics standard that was overturned by Congress in 2001, “Instead of acknowledging that the scientific and medical record relied upon for this regulation left many questions necessary to issue a regulation unanswered … [Michaels] described the science as settled and the efforts by business advocates to raise concerns about the science as nothing more than a delaying tactic.”
On the subject of ergonomics, Barab stated in a Web chat on Dec. 7, “At this time, OSHA has no plans to pursue ergonomics regulation, although the incoming Assistant Secretary [Michaels] will be addressing this issue as one of his highest priorities.”