Doug Parker Nominated to Lead OSHA
On Friday, April 9, 2021, President Biden announced the nomination of Doug Parker to lead the nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Parker, who has been head of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) since September 2019, would assume the federal role at a critical time. Amid a pandemic, and as OSHA continues to debate issuing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 workplace standards, this leadership position holds added importance.
Before joining Cal/OSHA, Parker held the director role at Worksafe: Safety Health & Justice for Workers, a nonprofit advocacy group in California, and under President Obama, he served in the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Prior to those positions, he was a staff attorney for the United Mineworkers of America and a private practice lawyer. He also served on President Biden’s transition team, providing advice on occupational health and safety issues.
California issued its own COVID-19 ETS earlier in the pandemic, so Parker’s nomination may advance OSHA’s timeline to enact an ETS. President Biden had directed the Department of Labor to decide by March 15 if an ETS was needed; however, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh has indicated that the process is on hold. Parker’s nomination may also signal that OSHA will become more focused on regulation enforcement.
Some business owners are concerned about the ETS that OSHA may issue since the California standard was rigid.
“The Virginia standard, the Michigan standard take [employers’] efforts into account,” explained National Retail Federation Vice President Ed Egee. But he asserted that California has “a completely unworkable standard.”
“Hopefully we can work together more constructively at the federal level than we did at the state level,” Egee said, referring to Parker’s nomination. “I want to keep an open mind.”
David Michaels, who led OSHA during the Obama administration, believes that Parker will face complex challenges. “COVID is a massive worker safety crisis, and OSHA has not even been permitted to issue an Emergency Standard,” he said.
Parker’s nomination will go before the Senate for approval. Currently, OSHA is experiencing its most prolonged timeframe without a Senate-confirmed leader or an assistant director of the Department of Labor. Michaels departed in January 2017, and in October of that year, President Trump nominated Scott Mungo for the assistant secretary of labor role. In May 2019, Mungo withdrew from consideration after 19 months without Senate confirmation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.