Effect Measure

Liz Borkowski at The Pump Handle has the scoop, but it’s a win for every worker: our friend and epidemiologist colleague and member of the Pump Handle blogger team, Dr. David Michaels, has just been nominated by President Obama to be the next head of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). This is the top health and safety position in the nation. One of his Deputy’s is Jordan Barab, currently Acting Director, another long time health and safety professional who worked for the Chemical Safety Board and then the Congress and whose blog, Confined Space, was the premier health and safety blog for years on end. Jordan was a master of the form and used his blog to advance the cause of all workers having a safe place to work. So now OSHA’s top dogs will be former bloggers.

Here’s some of the official announcement from The White House:

David Michaels, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Labor

David Michaels, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and is currently Research Professor at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. He has conducted numerous studies of the health effects of occupational exposure to toxic chemicals, including asbestos, metals and solvents, and has written extensively on science and regulatory policy. From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health, responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers, neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation?s nuclear weapons facilities. In that position, he was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate nuclear weapons workers who developed occupational illnesses as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. In 2006, Dr. Michaels received the American Association for the Advancement of Science?s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for his work on behalf of nuclear weapons workers and for his advocacy for scientific integrity. He is also the recipient of the 2009 John P. McGovern Science and Society Award given by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. (White House Press Release)

That’s the official resume. The unofficial one is this. OSHA once again has deeply committed health and safety professionals at its helm. I don’t think the agency has had such competent and committed leadership since the days of Dr. Eula Bingham in the Carter administration. Eula is still fighting for workers’ health and many others from those days are still around. David and Jordan will have our full support, but will also have to carry the weight of all our hopes. But they’re up to it.

It’s a big job and as important as they come. Lives depend on it. David will need, and deserve, our help. This is a very big deal for public health.

Congratulations, my friend.


  1. #1 military wife
    July 29, 2009

    An epidemiologist is an interesting choice. Perhaps OSHA will release some guidelines about the importance of allowing sufficient sick leave in pandemic situations?

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    July 30, 2009

    This is good news. Maybe he can eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal feed as a health threat to farm workers.

    It is my understanding that it was the second hand smoke issue and its impact on employees that stopped smoking in public places.

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