Ex-Steelworkers safety official appointed to run OSHA on interim basis
The Biden administration on Inauguration Day wasted no time in naming former United Steelworkers safety official Jim Frederick as acting chief of OSHA, part of a team of interim leaders at the Labor Department who will help jump start the new administration’s labor and employment agenda.
As of January 21, OSHA’s organization chart shows Frederick as acting chief of OSHA. Other top OSHA leadership positions: Thomas Hughes will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pandemic and Emergency Response for OSHA. Previously, he was the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education and Training Program, which provided grants to unions, companies and nonprofits to train rank-and-file workers on occupational health and safety.
Another OSHA leader is Deputy Assistant Secretary Many Edens, who joined the agency in 1985 as an industrial hygienist. Edens formerly served as the director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support & Emergency Management (DTSEM) since 2012.
Ann Rosenthal is now serving as an OSHA senior advisor. Rosenthal was the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health at the Department of Labor until 2017. She spent her entire legal career focusing on protecting the safety and health of American workers. Earlier, Rosenthal had served as Deputy Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health and as Counsel for Appellate Litigation in both the Occupational Safety and Health and Mine Safety and Health Divisions of the Office of the Solicitor.
Frederick began work remotely on Wednesday. He will join a group of Obama administration alums and other workplace policy professionals who will begin serving in temporary roles across the Labor Department. Many could stay on permanently, some as second-in-command at their respective subagencies.
The incoming administration plans to flood the DOL with political appointees in acting roles, to quickly address urgent priorities tied to the pandemic-driven workforce crisis and to start work on reversing regulations enacted by the Trump administration.
Frederick, who retired last year after 24 years as United Steelworkers’ assistant health and safety director, will have a hand in addressing Biden’s call for OSHA to advance an enforceable regulation that would require employers to take steps to protect workers from contracting Covid-19 while on the job.
Surgeon General: Biden nominees Obama’s surgeon general
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams resigned at President-elect Joe Biden’s request on Wednesday, as the incoming president sought to make a symbolic break with his predecessor’s covid-19 response.
Biden has nominated Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general under President Obama and a close adviser of the president-elect, to be the nation’s new surgeon general, but Murthy first needs to undergo Senate confirmation hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
Three people with knowledge of the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it said the incoming Biden administration would choose an acting surgeon general as soon as Wednesday, bypassing Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz, a career civil servant.”
New Labor Secretary a former top union leader
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former top union leader, has been nominated to serve as President Biden’s Labor secretary.
Walsh is the son of Irish immigrants who rose through the ranks of Boston’s Building and Construction Trades union before entering politics.
Debbie Berkowitz, a program director at the National Employment Law Project, called Walsh a “great supporter of measures to improve worker safety.”
As an example of Walsh’s commitment to protecting workers on the job, Berkowitz pointed to his response to a 2016 incident in Boston, when two workers drowned in a trench after a water main burst.
Mayor Walsh pushed through what Berkowitz called a “groundbreaking” city ordinance requiring contractors applying for city jobs to report OSHA violations in permit applications, giving the city the ability to deny or revoke a contractor’s permit based on its safety history.