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

Full Agenda Awaits Michaels

The new chief of OSHA, David Michaels, Ph.D., will be sworn in this week and quickly can decide how to tackle some of the big issues on the agency's plate.

David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, will be sworn in this week as assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced Monday. And comments by Solis and OSHA's acting leader, Jordan Barab, indicate Michaels will have a full plate before him at day one. Barab was asked about ergonomics rulemaking, updating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs), the diactetyl rulemaking that is moving slowly, and several other issues as he and Solis answered questions Monday about the new semiannual regulatory agenda.

No huge surprises were revealed, but there will be a rulemaking to restore a column on the 300 injury and illness log for recording musculoskeletal disorders. Barab and Solis both said that does not mean ergonomics rulemaking has resumed.

Michaels has been a research professor and interim chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C. He was the U.S. Department of Energy's assistant secretary for Environment, Safety and Health from 1998 through January 2001 during the Clinton administration, then joined the GWU school, where he directs The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy. He is the author of the 2008 book "Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health" and is credited with being the chief catalyst of the Labor Department-managed Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which has paid out more than $5 billion in benefits to sick workers and their relatives to compensate them for illnesses caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium, and other hazards during the production of U.S. atomic weapons.

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