Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
Appointed by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, David Michaels, PhD, MPH, became the 12th Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health in December, 2009.
As the longest serving Assistant Secretary in OSHA’s history, he has worked to strengthen the agency’s enforcement in high hazard industries, promote common sense worker protection programs and standards, expand compliance assistance provided to small employers, improve OSHA’s whistleblower protection program, and increase outreach to the vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk for work-related injury and illness. He has also increased OSHA’s focus and capabilities in the areas of data analysis and program evaluation.
Dr. Michaels is an epidemiologist, currently on leave from his position as Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He is the author of studies examining the health of construction workers, printers, bus drivers and other occupations, as well as of numerous publications on science and regulatory policy.
From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health. In that position, he was the chief architect of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, the historic initiative to compensate nuclear weapons workers who contracted occupational illnesses as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. The program has provided more than $10 billion in compensation to sick workers and the families of deceased workers.
In 2006, Dr. Michaels was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, and, in 2009, the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award given by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, for his work in scientific integrity and for gaining compensation for nuclear weapons workers.
He is a graduate of the City College of New York, and holds an MPH (Master of Public Health) and PhD from Columbia University.