California Safety Chief Named New Head of OSHA

A new administration signals that changes are coming to OSHA.

Earlier this week President Joe Biden named Doug Parker the new head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Parker is currently in his third year as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) after previously working for the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) praised the appointment. Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a statement: “With his broad experience as an advocate for union mine workers, head of National COSH affiliate Worksafe, and leader of one of the nation’s largest state workplace safety agencies at CAL/OSHA, we are optimistic that Doug will restore faith in an agency tasked with implementing and enforcing safety standards during this critical time for U.S. workers and families.”

As head of Cal/OSHA, Parker oversaw the implementation of statewide emergency workplace standards. Now he will likely be tasked with implementing similar standards nationally per executive order of the president.

“At CAL/OSHA, Doug played a key role in developing a statewide COVID-19 safety standard,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “Workers will be looking to him to take immediate action to enact a nationwide COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).”

Construction industry officials reacted less enthusiastically to the appointment, but seemed generally optimistic about the direction that OSHA is headed.

“ABC looks to OSHA to continue to be a collaborative partner for the entire industry, helping us create the conditions for everyone to complete their work without incident and to go home safe and healthy every day,” Greg Sizemore, Associated Builders and Contractors’ vice president of health, safety, environment, and workforce development told Construction Dive.

Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiative of the Associated General Contractors of America, also told Construction Dive that the organization “looks forward to continuing the strong, productive and successful relationship we have had with the agency under its new head once he is confirmed.”

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