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National COSH Calls for Senate to Approve Doug Parker to Head OSHA

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535; roger@nationalcosh.org

National COSH Calls for Senate to Approve
Doug Parker to Head OSHA;
“Huge Task Ahead” to Protect Workers
and Restore Agency Credibility

LOS ANGELES – Leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) called for the U.S. Senate to rapidly approve the nomination of Doug Parker, named by President Biden to head the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Parker formerly served as executive director of Worksafe, a National COSH affiliate based in Oakland, California, and also as chief of Cal/OSHA, the nation’s largest state workplace safety agency.  The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is holding a hearing today on Parker’s nomination as assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health

“After more than four years without a Senate-confirmed leader, it’s time for a stronger OSHA with more resources and a firm mandate to protect working people from preventable illnesses, injuries and deaths,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH. 

“Doug Parker has first-hand experience as an advocate for workers and as a regulator with responsibility to protect workers and the public,” said Martinez. “He will have a huge task ahead of him to restore the credibility of an agency that failed to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with tragic results.”

Worker complaints to OSHA increased by 20 percent in 2020, while inspections by the agency dropped by 50 percent. The result, according to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor, “is an increased risk that OSHA is not providing the level of protection that workers need at various job sites.”

“Every day, we talk to temporary workers, construction workers and others who are provided little or no safety training or protection by their employers,” said Olga Morales, an organizer with New Labor, a workers’ center based in New Jersey. “With new leadership, OSHA needs to step up its game, be proactive, and help workers understand their right to a safe workplace."

National COSH, which links the efforts of 24 community-based workplace health and safety advocacy organizations, says top priorities for OSHA must include:

  • Winning final approval for a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, which the agency sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review on April 26;
  • Issuing a new permanent standard to protect all workers from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases;
  • Hiring more safety inspectors, conducting more safety inspections and rigorous enforcement of federal safety laws;
  • Protecting all workers -- especially undocumented workers and other vulnerable groups -- from illegal retaliation by employers when they speak out about safety problems; and
  • Bringing workers and worker organizations to the table to ensure that the agency’s policies and practices are guided by first-hand experience in our workplaces.

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how much we all need and depend on frontline workers for food, medical care, sanitation, transport and so many other essential services,” said Martinez. “These workers -- and all workers -- must have their voices heard, because they know how to identify and reduce hazards, and make their workplaces safer.”

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit NationalCOSH.org. Follow us at NationalCOSH on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on Twitter and @NationalCOSH on Instagram