Senate Confirms President Biden’s Choice to Lead OSHA

Senate Confirms President Biden’s Choice to Lead OSHA

OSHA has not confirmed a new leader since January 2017.

The U.S. Senate voted 50-41 Monday confirming President Biden’s nominee to lead OSHA. According to an article, Douglas Parker, most recently chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, was confirmed to be the assistant secretary of labor at the Labor Department, which makes him the leader of the workplace safety agency which has roughly 1,800 employees. Parker previously served as the deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration under the Obama administration and was a part of the Biden transition to worker health and safety issues.

“I'm very excited,” Jordan Barab, OSHA deputy assistant secretary from 2009 to 2017, told Government Executive on Monday. “Doug will be a strong advocate for worker safety and health, and he has the experience and expertise to lead OSHA through these challenging times.”

This is a crucial moment for OSHA since it is about to release an emergency rule to require companies with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or require frequent COVID-19 testing. The rule is currently under review by the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It created extensive backlash from Republican governors and lawmakers.

During his confirmation hearing in May, Parker said that in his previous government roles maintaining a dialog with stakeholders was a “top priority” and, if confirmed to lead OSHA, he would continue that. “We do not have to choose between a strong economy and good, safe jobs; listening to and learning from stakeholders is how we can ensure both,” he said

Parker also defended California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s decision to issue an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19, as the Biden administration was working on a national one.

Under the Trump administration, OSHA was accused of not doing enough for the pandemic response, though administration officials did not agree with that claim. On President Biden’s first full day in office, he issued an executive order directing the agency to support its response.

Since President Biden came into office, James Frederick, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, has been leading OSHA.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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