Assistant Secretary David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, who is the leader of OSHA, is shown in a GWU photo

HELP to Act Nov. 18 on Michaels Nomination

If the committee approves him, the OSHA nominee would then have only to await action by the full U.S. Senate. Also, President Obama has nominated a third OSHRC commissioner.

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will take action Nov. 18 on the nomination of epidemiologist David Michaels, Ph.D., to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A spokeswoman for HELP Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Tuesday that the committee will mark up food safety reform legislation and also act on the Michaels nomination that morning.

Food safety has been a priority for Harkin for some time. His committee held a hearing on the issue Oct. 22. "To be honest about it, our food can be safer, and it must be safer," Harkin said as he opened the hearing. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food-borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses each year, including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. These numbers are staggering and totally intolerable. That's why, as we focus on national health care reform, we can’t afford to ignore food safety. Unsafe food is yet another strain on our health care system. And it is a problem that we can and must address now."

On Nov. 10, President Obama nominated Cynthia L. Attwood to be a member of the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission, the independent panel that rules on appeals of OSHA and MSHA citations and penalties. OSHRC currently has only two commissioners: Chairman Thomasina V. Rogers and Commissioner Horace A. Thompson. The White House announcement of Attwood said she “has spent her career as a lawyer and judge with much of her time focused on the administration and enforcement of federal occupational safety and health laws.” She was an administrative appeals judge on the U.S. Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board for three years and was an attorney advisor for that board for the previous eight years, according to the announcement, and she also has served as DOL associate solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health and associate solicitor for Mine Safety and Health.

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