(c) 2010-2024 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query michaels. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query michaels. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate David Michaels Assistant Secretary for the OSHA

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate David Michaels, 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.

David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health during the Clinton administration contends that corporations hire their own scientists to skew the safety records of certain products. He recently spoke at an event was hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. The speech was broadcast by C-Span TV. in 2006. Michael authored Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.

Monday, July 14, 2014

OSHA Chief: Inequality in America Is About Workplace Hazards, Too

Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.
Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.

Inequality and poverty have taken center stage in American politics in the years since the recession. Fast food workers have raised the profile of low-wage work, cities and states around the country are raising the minimum wage, and elected officials in both parties have made the struggles of poor Americans core political issues.

But David Michaels, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the Obama administration, says that workplace inequality is more than just wages. In an interview, Michaels, who is responsible for enforcing federal laws to project workers from illness and injury, says the regulatory structures he oversees aren’t sufficient to protect vulnerable workers from harm.

NBC: The political conversation about inequality in recent years has focused on wages. You've made the point that when addressing inequality, we should focus more on workplace health and safety issues. Why?

Michaels: Wages are clearly a core component of the discussion of inequality and the ability to get into and stay in middle class. But workplace health and safety issues also have an enormous impact. Workplace injury and illness can push workers out of middle-class jobs and make it hard to enter into the middle class in the first place.
Studies show that workplace injury...
[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

C-Span TV: David Michaels Author of "Doubt is Their Product"

David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health during the Clinton administration contends that corporations hire their own scientists to skew the safety records of certain products. He recently spoke at an event was hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. The speech was broadcast by C-Span TV.

David Michaels directs the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Mr. Michaels was formerly Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health during the Clinton administration. He received the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award in 2006. Michael authored Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Highlighting Safety at OSHA

The President's nomination of David Michaels to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) underscores the Administration's desire to emphasize the need for safety in the workplace. Michaels, author of the book, "Workers at Risk," recognized that safety is a shared responsibility between Labor and Industry.

In a recent discussion on National Public Radio's program "Living on Earth," a "New Approach to Workplace Dangers" was discussed. "President Obama recently announced the nomination of David Michaels to head up the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Michaels, a public health professional, has been an outspoken critic of polluting industries, accusing them of manufacturing uncertainty so as to undermine the science behind regulation. Host Jeff Young talks to Sidney Shapiro, a Wake Forest Law Professor and OSHA expert, about this nomination."

Michael's has indicated that a change of culture is called for. "What polluters have seen is that the strategy that the tobacco industry came up with, which essentially is questioning the science, find the controversy and magnify that controversy, is very successful in slowing down public health protections. And so the scientists who used to work for the tobacco industry are now working for most major chemical companies. They don't have to show a chemical exposure is safe. All they have to do is show that the other studies are in question somehow. And by raising that level of uncertainty, they throw essentially a monkey wrench into the system."

The agency will next have to be given the necessary tools to permit the culture of safety to flourish. OSHA must become proactive about safety. Congress will now have to act to implement new laws to strengthen OSHA's mission of safety.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Former Head of OSHA to Join Biden-Harris Transition Team

Workforce health continues to be focus of concern by the Biden-Harris Transition team. President-elect Joe Biden announced new members of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. 

Friday, October 2, 2009

AAAS Enthusiastically Endorses the Nomination of Dr. David Michael as Assistant Secretary of OSHA

The prestigious, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has endorsed the nomination of Dr. David Michaels to become Assistant Secretary of Labor for The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In a letter to Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Albert H. Teich, Director of Science & Policy Programs for AAAS enthusiastically endorsed the Michael’s nomination.

Teich wrote, “My colleagues and I agree wholeheartedly. Michaels is an expert on the health effects of exposure to toxic chemicals and understands the ways that science can be used- and misused- in legal and regulatory decision making. Much of his research and policy work has focused on the health of the disadvantaged.”

Michael’s was the recipient of AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, an annual prize created by the AAAS in 1980 to “honor scientists and engineers whose exemplary actions have served foster scientific freedom and responsibility.”

The AAAS’s endorsement letter in support of the nomination further stated, …. “The citation on Dr. Michaels's award recognizes him both for his " commitment to obtaining justice for workers whose health has suffered from working in nuclear weapons programs and for his advocacy for scientific integrity in public policy making."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, 
"Triple A-S" (AAAS), is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

For more information about OSHA click here.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

OSHA Needs To Be Strengthened

If workplaces were safer then there would be no reason to have a workers' compensation program at all. OSHA, The Occupational Safety and Head Health Administration (OSHA), does just that, but its enforcement powers are lacking.

OSHA was created legislatively by Congress in 1970. In the years following  The National
Commission on Workmen's Compensation Laws in 1972 reported that safety should be encouraged, and that, "....Economic incentives in the program should reduce the number of work-related· injuries

and diseases." 

Today, The New York Times reports that "Occupational illness and injuries ....cost the American economy $250 Billion per year due to medical expenses and lost productivity."

English: A picture of David Michaels, Assistan...
English: A picture of David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"OSHA devotes most of its budget and attention to responding to here-and-now dangers rather than preventing the silent, slow killers that, in the end, take far more lives. Over the past four decades, the agency has written new standards with exposure limits for 16 of the most deadly workplace hazards, including lead, asbestos and arsenic. But for the tens of thousands of other dangerous substances American workers handle each day, employers are largely left to decide what exposure level is safe.


“"I’m the first to admit this [OSHA] is broken,' said David Michaels, the OSHA director, referring to the agency’s record on dealing with workplace health threats. 'Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people end up on the gurney.'"

Click here to read the complete article,  As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

Thursday, December 8, 2011

US Department of Labor continues to cite beauty salons and manufacturers for formaldehyde exposure from hair smoothing products

OSHA urges salon owners to implement protective measures
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is continuing its efforts to protect workers from the dangers of formaldehyde exposure.

In November, OSHA issued citations and fines to two salons for failing to implement precautions to protect workers from exposure to formaldehyde when using certain hair-smoothing products. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and nose; can cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes and lungs; and is a cancer hazard. Salon owners who decide to use products that may contain or release formaldehyde must follow the requirements of OSHA's formaldehyde and hazard communication standards to keep workers safe.

"We want to make sure that salon owners are aware that if they use these products, they have to implement protective measures such as air monitoring and training," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "What is very troubling to the agency is that some of these products clearly expose workers to formaldehyde even when the label states they are ‘formaldehyde free.'"

OSHA continues to respond to complaints and referrals of formaldehyde exposure in salons, beauty schools and manufacturing facilities. To date in calendar year 2011, federal OSHA has issued citations to 23 salon owners and beauty schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, with fines ranging up to $17,500 for failing to protect workers from overexposure and potential exposure to formaldehyde.

Some of these violations include failing to communicate the hazards of exposure to formaldehyde, provide needed protective equipment and test air levels. The requirements of OSHA's formaldehyde standard can be viewed at In three separate salons, OSHA's tests showed that workers were exposed to formaldehyde levels above the agency's 15-minute short-term exposure limit, which is 2.0 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air. In one case, OSHA determined that a hair stylist was exposed to more than five times the allowable amount with an actual exposure reading of 10.12 ppm. In another instance, the exposure reading was 4.73 ppm.

OSHA also has issued citations to two Florida manufacturers and two Florida-based distributors of hair products containing formaldehyde for failing to protect their own workers from possible formaldehyde exposure as well as to communicate the hazards of formaldehyde exposure to salons, stylists and consumers. The violations of OSHA's formaldehyde and hazard communication standards include failing to list formaldehyde as a hazardous ingredient on the material safety data sheet, the hazard warning sheet provided to users such as salon owners and stylists; include proper hazard warnings on product labels; and list the health effects of formaldehyde exposure on the MSDS. Labels must include ingredient and health hazard warning information, and the MSDS must provide users with information on the chemicals in a product, the hazards to workers and how to use the product safely.

"The best way to control exposure to formaldehyde is to use products that do not contain formaldehyde. Salons should check the label or product information to make sure it does not list formaldehyde, formalin, methylene glycol or any of the other names for formaldehyde," said Michaels. "If salon owners decide to use products that contain or release formaldehyde, then they must follow a number of protective practices — including air monitoring, worker training and, if levels are over OSHA limits, good ventilation or respirators."

OSHA already has conducted significant outreach to salons, beauty schools and manufacturers to alert them about the hazards of hair smoothing products and the requirements of OSHA's standards. In late September, OSHA issued a second hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with certain hair smoothing and straightening products, which can be viewed at This alert, which revised the initial alert issued last spring, was prompted by the results of additional agency inspections, a warning letter issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and factually incorrect information recently sent to salons by Brazilian Blowout, a company that manufactures hair products.

In response to the Aug. 24 letter sent by Brazilian Blowout to salon owners claiming that all OSHA air tests performed on the company's Brazilian Blowout Professional Acai Smoothing Solution yielded results below OSHA's standard for exposure, the agency sent a letter to the company refuting that assertion. OSHA's letter can be viewed at*.

For more information on formaldehyde exposure in salons, visit

For small businesses in all states across the country, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice for employers seeking help to identify and prevent job hazards or improve their safety and health management systems. In fiscal year 2010, the program provided free assistance to more than 30,000 small businesses covering more than 1.5 million workers across the nation. For more information, visit

"These consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations," said Michaels. "Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems."

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Friday, November 1, 2013

OSHA releases new resources to better protect workers from hazardous chemicals

Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to the thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used in workplaces every day. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today launched two new web resources to assist companies with keeping their workers safe.

While many chemicals are suspected of being harmful, OSHA's exposure standards are out-of-date and inadequately protective for the small number of chemicals that are regulated in the workplace. The first resource OSHA has created is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. This toolkit walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods,
tools and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or make informed substitution decisions in the workplace by finding a safer chemical, material, product or process. The toolkit is available at

"We know that the most efficient and effective way to protect workers from hazardous chemicals is by eliminating or replacing those chemicals with safer alternatives whenever possible," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OSHA To Fine Employers for Distracted Driving Accidents

OSHA has announced an aggressive program to combat "The Number 1 Killer of Workers," Distracted Driving. The announcement was made today by Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA).

The enforcement program was described by Michaels  at a symposium on the prevention of Occupationally-Related Distracted Driving conference hosted by Johns Hopkins University. Following the policy announced by President Obama in his Executive Order banning texting while driving, OSHA is calling upon all employers to ban texting while driving.

It is the intention of OSHA to provide education and enforcement on the issue of distracted driving. OSHA will investigate motor vehicle accidents, including cell phone records, and will issue citations and fine employers where an accident involved texting while driving. While OSHA has juridiction over employers, and not employees,  it hopes to encourage all employers to declare motor vehicles a "text free zone."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Court Orders Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier to Comply With OSHA Subpoena

The workers’ compensation insurance company, who provided coverage to an employer where a double fatality occurred when a grain elevator exploded, has been order by a US Federal Court Judge, to comply with a subpoena issued by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] directed to obtain information about the safety of the facility. The opinion entered by Judge Philip G. Reinhard, adopts the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge, requires that custodian of records of the workers’ compensation insurance company testify and present documents concerning inspections and reports it prepared as to the employer, Haasbach LLC.

The Court reasoned that OSHA had the authority under Federal law to conduct inspections and investigation including requesting attendance and testimony of witnesses. 29 U.S.C. 657(b). The Court also held that OSHA’s request for loss control reports for 4 years prior to the accident were reasonably related to the investigation. The workers’ compensation insurance company will also be required to produce: site safety inspections, applications for insurance coverage for the site, and correspondence between the insurance carrier, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co., and the the employer, Hassbach, concerning the site.

OSHA had issued 25 citations ($555,000 penalty) to the Illinois grain elevator operator, Haasbach LLC, following an investigation into the deaths of two young workers, Wyatt Whitebread and Alex Pacas (ages 14 and 19 years old, respectively), at the company’s grain elevator in Mount Carroll, Illinois. A third worker was injured at the time of the accident, when they were “walking down the corn” to make it flow while while machinery used for evacuating the grain was running.

Grain entrapments kill workers. All employers, especially those in high-hazard industries, must prevent workers from being hurt or killed as a result of recognized hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “There is absolutely no excuse for any worker to be killed in this type of incident.”

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels praised the decision. “The court affirmed OSHA’s authority to obtain relevant information from an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. This is not surprising legally, but it does illustrate that workers’ compensation and OSHA are not separate worlds divorced from each other,” he said. “Workers’ compensation loss control activities overlap with OSHA’s efforts to bring about safe and healthful workplaces, and in order to achieve a safe and healthful working environment for all Americans, all efforts of business, insurance, labor and government must move forward together.”

Judge Reinhard held that disclosure of the information into the public domain was permissible unless a federally recognized attorney-client privilege existed due to a pending state court action. If such a privilege was to be asserted as to certain materials that would be required to be produced, then the parties may submit a privilege log to the magistrate judge for consideration.

Solis v. Grinnell Mut. Reinsurance Co., 2011 WL 1642534 (N.D. Ill) Decided May 2, 2011
Related articles

· OSHA Anniversary April 21, 2011 10:00am C-Span Event (

· OSHA To Fine Employers for Distracted Driving Accidents (

· Video of The History of US OSHA (

· OSHA at 40 (

· US OSHA Warns Workers of Brazilian Blowout Formaldehyde Hazards (

Friday, March 5, 2010

OSHA is Listening

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is soliciting suggestions and comments concerning workplace safety. OSHA's concern is that, "No one should have to be injured or killed for a paycheck."

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a public meeting, "OSHA Listens," to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. The meeting was scheduled for Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C.

"Public involvement in the government's activities is a priority for this administration and is important to enhancing OSHA efforts to protect the safety and health of workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This public meeting gives us an opportunity to hear your ideas, suggestions and comments on key issues facing this agency."

Some of the questions OSHA invited public input on included:
  1. What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards?
  2. What are the most important emerging or unaddressed health and safety issues in the workplace, and what can OSHA do to address these?
  3. How can the agency improve its efforts to engage stakeholders in programs and initiatives?
  4. What specific actions can the agency take to enhance the voice of workers in the workplace, particularly workers who are hard to reach, do not have ready access to information about hazards or their rights, or are afraid to exercise their rights?
  5. Are there additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the agency's current compliance assistance efforts and the on site consultation program, to ensure that small businesses have the information needed to provide safe workplaces?
  6. Given the length and difficulty of the current OSHA rulemaking process, and given the need for new standards that will protect workers from unaddressed, inadequately addressed and emerging hazards, are there policies and procedures that will decrease the time to issue final standards so that OSHA may implement needed protections in a timely manner?
  7. As we continue to progress through a new information age vastly different from the environment in which OSHA was created, what new mechanisms or tools can the agency use to more effectively reach high risk employees and employers with training, education and outreach? What is OSHA doing now that may no longer be necessary?
  8. Are there indicators, other than worksite injuries and illness logs, that OSHA can use to enhance resource targeting?
  9. In the late 1980s, OSHA and its stakeholders worked together to update the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) (exposure limits for hazardous substances; most adopted in 1971), but the effort was unsuccessful. Should updating the PELs be a priority for the agency? Are there suggestions for ways to update the PELs, or other ways to control workplace chemical exposures?
After a written comment period closes on March 30, 2010, a link to the Meeting Transcript will be posted on the Internet. Comments received through March 3rd are now available on line.

Meeting Agenda

9 a.m.  Welcome and Introductory Comments
   David Michaels, Assistant Secretary, OSHA
   Deborah Berkowitz, Chief of Staff, OSHA
9:10-9:50 Panel 1
   Tonya Ford, Uncle killed at ADM facility in 2009
   Katherine Rodriguez, Father killed at British Petroleum in 2004
   Wanda Morillo, Husband killed in a NJ industrial explosion in 2005
   Celeste Monforton, American Public Health Association
   Linda Reinstein, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
9:50-10:30 Panel 2
   Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
   Keith Smith, National Association of Manufacturers
   Frank White, ORC
   Stephen Sandherr, Association of General Contractors
10:30-10:40 Break
10:40-11:20 Panel 3
   Workers United
   Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO
   Scott Schneider, Laborers' Health and Safety Fund
   Mike Wright, United Steel Workers
11:20-11:50 Panel 4
   Chris Patton, American Society for Safety Engineers
   Katharine Kirkland, Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics
   Aaron Trippler, American Industrial Hygiene Association
11:50-12:30 Panel 5
   Kathleen McPhaul, American Public Health Association, Univ. of Maryland Nursing
   Hestor Lipscomb, Duke University Medical School
   Rick Neitzel, National Hearing Conservation Association
   Matt Schudtz, University of Maryland Law School
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:00 Panel 6
   Karen Harned, Nat'l Federation of Independent Business, Small Business Legal Center
   Cynthia Hilton, Institute of Makers of Explosives
   Thomas Slavin, Navistar, Inc.
2:00-2:30 Panel 7
   Andrew Youpel, Brandenburg Industrial Service Company
   Robert Matuga, National Association of Home Builders
   Tom Broderick, Construction Safety Council
2:30-3:00  Panel 8
   Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies
   Luzdary Giraldo, NY Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
   Roger Cook/Peter Dooley, Western NY Council on Occupational Safety and Health
3:00-3:40 Panel 9
   Rick Engler, NJ Work Environmental Council
   Tom O'Connor, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
   Norman Pflanz, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law
   Chris Trahan, Building and Construction Trades Department
3:40-3:50 Break
3:50-4:10 Panel 10
   John Masarick, Independent Electrical Contractors
   Davis Layne, VPPPA
4:10-4:40 Panel 11
   Bruce Lapham, Valcourt Building Services, LC
   Scott A. Mugno, FedEx Express
   Marc Kolanz, Brush Wellman Inc.
4:40-5:10 Panel 12
   Pamela Vossenas, Unite Here! International
   John Morawetz, International Chemical Workers Union Council
   Dinkar Mokadam, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
5:10-5:50 Panel 13
   Rick Inclima, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
   Jason Zuckerman, Employment Law Group
   Richard Renner, National Whistleblowers Center
   Tim Sharp, Alaska Review Board & Laborer's Council
Click here to read more about OSHA and workers' compensation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

$1 Million Ordered in Wages and Damages for Retailiation

English: I took this photo of an Airtran Airwa...Image via Wikipedia

US Department of Labor's OSHA orders AirTran Airways to reinstate
pilot, pay more than $1 million in back wages and damages
OSHA found airline violated whistleblower protection provision of AIR21

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co., to reinstate a former pilot who was fired after reporting numerous mechanical concerns. The agency also has ordered that the pilot be paid more than $1 million in back wages plus interest and compensatory damages. An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause to believe that the termination was an act of retaliation in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21.

"Airline workers must be free to raise safety and security concerns, and companies that diminish those rights through intimidation or retaliation must be held accountable," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Airline safety is of vital importance, not only to the workers, but to the millions of Americans who use our airways."

The pilot's complaint alleged that the airline removed him from flight status on Aug. 23, 2007, pending an investigative hearing regarding a sudden spike in the pilot's mechanical malfunction reports, or PIREPS. The airline held an internal investigative hearing on Sept. 6, 2007, that lasted 17 minutes. Seven days later, the airline terminated the pilot's employment, claiming that he did not satisfactorily answer a question regarding the spike in reports. OSHA found that the pilot did not refuse to answer any questions during the hearing, answers to questions were appropriate, and the action taken by the airline was retaliatory.

"Retaliating against a pilot for reporting mechanical malfunctions is not consistent with a company that values the safety of its workers and customers," added Michaels. "Whistleblower laws are designed to protect workers' rights to speak out when they have safety concerns, and the Labor Department will vigilantly protect and defend those fundamental rights."

Either party to the case can file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such an appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.

AirTran Airways is a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings Inc. with headquarters in Orlando. On May 2, 2011, Southwest Airlines completed the acquisition of AirTran Holdings Inc. and now operates AirTran Airways as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provision of AIR21, as well as 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, workplace health and safety, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, consumer product and food safety laws.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.

Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights is available online at

Thursday, November 3, 2011

OSHA: Corporate Fraud Contributed To Nation's Economic Problems

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will publish interim final rules in the Nov. 3 Federal Register that revise the regulations governing whistleblower complaints filed under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The act protects employees of publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries, and of certain other employers, from retaliation for reporting mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, violations of SEC rules or regulations, or violations of any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. OSHA is requesting public comment on the interim final rule.
"Fraudulent practices by publicly held corporations have contributed to the economic difficulties currently facing our nation," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "The best way to prevent this from happening in the future is to ensure that workers feel free to blow the whistle on corrupt corporate practices without fear of retaliation, and OSHA is committed to protecting the rights of those workers to speak out."
The whistleblower protection provisions of SOX were amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to clarify that subsidiaries of publicly traded companies are covered employers under the statute, and to add nationally recognized statistical rating organizations as covered employers. The 2010 amendments to SOX also extended the statute of limitations for filing a complaint from 90 to 180 days, among other changes. The new interim final rules implement these changes and aim to improve OSHA's procedures for handling complaints under SOX.
Among the changes to improve the complaint filing process, the revised rules will allow SOX complainants to file complaints orally and in any language, and enhance the sharing of information between parties throughout the investigation.
"The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their legal rights without fear of retaliation is crucial to many of the legal protections and safeguards that all Americans value," said Dr. Michaels. "In a continuing effort to improve the Whistleblower Protection Program and make the filing process easier, the rules have been updated to reflect the changes required by the statute."
The interim final rule can be viewed at Comments, which must be received by Jan. 3, 2012, may be submitted electronically via the federal e-rulemaking portal at, or by mail or fax. Faxed submissions, including attachments, must not exceed 10 pages and should be sent to the OSHA Docket Office at 202-693-1648. Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2011-0126, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report reasonably perceived violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional information is available at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

OSHA Anniversary April 21, 2011 10:00am C-Span Event

A picture of David Michaels, Assistant Secreta...Image via Wikipedia
Featured speaker: David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Introduction by:: John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress Featured panelists: Cathy Stoddart, Staff Nurse, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, SEIU Mike Weibel, United Steelworkers/Goodyear Safety and Health Coordinator, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Topeka, Kansas Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health, AFL-CIO Joseph Van Houten, Senior Director of Worldwide Environment, Health, and Safety, Johnson & Johnson David Weil, Professor of Economics, Boston University School of Management Moderated by: Reece Rushing, Director of Government Reform, Center for American Progress.

Source C-Span

Saturday, April 16, 2011

OSHA at 40

Please join the Center for American Progress for a special presentation:

OSHA at 40

April 21, 2011, 10:00am – 11:30am
Admission is free.
Featured speaker:
David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
Featured panelists:
Peg SeminarioDirector of Safety and Health, AFL-CIO
Joseph Van Houten
Senior Director of Worldwide Environment, Health, and Safety, Johnson & Johnson
David Weil, Professor of Economics, Boston University School of Management
Moderated by:
Reece Rushing
Director of Government Reform, Center for American Progress
In 1970, 18 out of every 100,000 workers were killed on the job—a total of nearly 14,000 dead. That same year, President Richard Nixon signed legislation creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
As OSHA celebrates its 40th birthday this month, we also celebrate safer and healthier workplaces. Workplace fatality, injury, and illness rates are down more than 65 percent since 1970, thanks in large part to OSHA's efforts.
Despite this progress, workers still face many dangers. Every year more than 4,000 workers die on the job and more than 4 million suffer work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA must stay vigilant and keep up with ever-changing occupational hazards.
Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation about the agency's past and future. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, will talk with workers about changes they have seen on the ground. He will also talk with experts from labor and business about OSHA’s latest policies and actions.
April 21, 2011, 10:00am – 11:30am
Space is extremely limited. RSVP required.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and not guaranteed.
Coffee will be served at 9:30 a.m.
Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map & Directions
Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center
For more information, call 202-682-1611.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

David Michaels Testifies That OSHA Needs An Update-Enhance Penalties

In testimony before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protection of US Congress, David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) needs to be strengthened and enhanced. He encouraged that both civil monetary fines and criminal penalties should be increased.
"....If we are to fulfill the Department's goal of providing good jobs for everyone, we must make even more progress. Good jobs are safe jobs, and American workers still face unacceptable hazards. More than 5,000 workers are killed on the job in America each year, more than 4 million are injured, and thousands more will become ill in later years from present occupational exposures. Moreover, the workplaces of 2010 are not those of 1970: the law must change as our workplaces have changed. The vast majority of America's environmental and public health laws have undergone significant transformations since they were enacted in the 1960s and 70s, while the OSH Act has seen only minor amendments. As a British statesman once remarked, 'The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.'"
"Monetary penalties for violations of the OSH Act have been increased only once in 40 years despite inflation during that period. Unscrupulous employers often consider it more cost effective to pay the minimal OSHA penalty and continue to operate an unsafe workplace than to correct the underlying health and safety problem. The current penalties do not provide an adequate deterrent. This is apparent when compared to penalties that other agencies are allowed to assess."
"Criminal penalties in the OSH Act are also inadequate for deterring the most egregious employer wrongdoing. Under the OSH Act, criminal penalties are limited to those cases where a willful violation of an OSHA standard results in the death of a worker and to cases of false statements or misrepresentations. The maximum period of incarceration upon conviction for a violation that costs a worker's life is six months in jail, making these crimes a misdemeanor.....Nothing focuses attention like the possibility of going to jail. Unscrupulous employers who refuse to comply with safety and health standards as an economic calculus will think again if there is a chance that they will go to jail for ignoring their responsibilities to their workers...... A fresh look at the OSH Act and its relevance for the 21st century is indeed overdue."
Click here to read more about OSHA and workers' compensation.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

OSHA Moves to Protect Temporary Workers

OSHA launches initiative to protect temporary workers from injuries at work.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. The announcement was made during a program at the department's headquarters marking Workers' Memorial Day – an annual observance to honor workers who have died on the job and renew a commitment to making work sites across the country safer.

Dr. David Michaels

OSHA today sent a memorandum to the agency's regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. The memo, which can be viewed at, underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards.

"On Workers' Memorial Day, we mourn the loss of the thousands of workers who die each year on the job from preventable hazards," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Many of those killed and injured are temporary workers who often perform the most dangerous jobs have limited English proficiency and are not receiving the training and protective measures required. Workers must be safe, whether they've been on the job for one day or for 25 years."