OSHA Head Doug Parker Speaks at 2022 NSC Congress & Expo

Parker addressed occupational hazards such as heat illness and mental health as well as plans for rulemaking in the future.

Safety professionals from around the country are gathering in San Diego, Calif. for the National Safety Council’s annual Congress & Expo to network and learn with the top professionals in their field, including Doug Parker the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Parker joined EHS pros for the Occupational Keynote on Tuesday, September 20 to discuss what’s in store for OSHA—including active regulation on Covid-19, heat illness and workplace violence.

Parker kicked off his presentation by discussing how federal OSHA is looking inward to ensure the agency is putting their best foot forward to ensure strong occupational safety and health across states under the federal program.

“OSHA is currently in employee development efforts, we want to make sure that we have the resources to do the important work that we need to do,” Parker said. “We have hired more than 400 employees recently and as we recruit and hire, we do it with diversity at the forefront. We recognize that if we have a workforce that better reflects the businesses, companies and employees we work with, the better we can enforce protocols.”

Mental health in the workplace is also a priority for OSHA, according to Parker. The agency is currently creating a Worker Mental Health Toolkit, a resource employers can use to better train management and employees to recognize the signs of mental illnesses and know how to react.

Parker discussed OSHA’s plans for rule making moving forward. Currently, the agency is working to finalize a formal rule for Covid-19 and infectious diseases in healthcare but following that OSHA will turn to prioritize a standard to protect workers from heat illness.

“We started in 2010 with the Water Rest Shade Initiative,” Parker said. “Some things that have been given more priority since that initiative is the important of acclimatization, training for warning signs and engineering and administrative controls.”

In the Q&A session with NSC President Lorraine Martin, Parker addressed OSHA’s aging standards and how modernizations in technology may be considered with enforcement of compliance.

“We, at OSHA, are very supportive of advancing technology,” Parker said. “We have to be very mindful of privacy concerns, medical data and unfair treatment of employees through the data collected by sensors, but there are some incredible things that can be done to save lives with technology.”

Parker stressed throughout the keynote how safety as a core value of a company can only help business, bottom lines, productivity and protect not only employees but keep families and communities safe from tragedy as well.

“Saving lives, preventing injuries and making sure that workers are not stricken down with debilitating injuries is noble and important work,” Parker said. “And I thank everyone in this room for doing that work”

For those who cannot be in San Diego for the Congress & Expo, OH&S invites you to follow our live coverage of the event on our social media platforms and at ohsonline.com/live.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the former editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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