Monday, December 14, 2009

Dr. Michaels

As anyone who follows OSHA knows by now, Dr. David Michaels was nominated and confirmed as the new Assistant Secretary for OSHA. Someone recently posted a comment asking me what I thought of Dr. Michaels, and in one of the strangest moments in my life, I realized I have no real opinion!

I had never heard of Dr. Michaels before his nomination, but I guess my sense is that he is a good selection. The Pump Handle certainly sings his praises, but then again he worked with Celeste and the others who maintain that blog, so that's expected. ASSE and AIHA support him, and that's a positive. The US Chamber of Commerce didn't oppose him, although they begged for hearings, so I don't know what to make of that. He was approved unanimously by the Senate, which suggests that both sides are comfortable enough with him.

The only opposition I've seen is from the anti-gun control extremists who seem to think he, like everyone else, is going to take their guns away. I have no idea how they could rationally reach this conclusion, which suggests that there was no rationale, just extremism. Now don't jump up and down and leave nasty comments about gun control, I'm not expressing my opinion one way or another, I'm just saying that rational anti-gun control people recognize that Dr. Michaels can't take us in that direction. If you think an ergonomic standard is controversial, just imagine if we even hinted at gun control.

I like the fact that Dr. Michaels is a S&H professional. I like that he understands the science behind S&H. I really like that he has previously run a government program. I like that he probably won't fall asleep during meetings.

I have been around long enough to see Assistant Secretaries who exceeded expectations and those who failed to meet expectations, and I have learned from those experiences. I have put Dr. Michaels book "Doubt is Their Product," on my Christmas list to Santa, so I can get a better sense of who he is, but right now I have no expectations of Dr. Michaels, only hopes.


  1. I've got hopes, too. High hopes!! I just hope he remembers to put the FTEs (for you non-Federal employees, that means workers) in the field where they belong. (For you non-Federal employees, the field is anywhere outside of Washington. Unless one works in a Regional office, and then the field is anywhere outside of Washington and the Region.)

  2. I think about how public and relevant Jordan Barab was with the Confined Space blog and his opinions and genuine interest in promoting H+S. Then I think about how The Pump Handle posted that they would try to maintain that great resource, and the page devoted to the CS blog has been stale for 3 years (not that there hasn't been SOME comparative content on the main page, just nothing like CS). The men come from different places. My hope is that Michaels will let Barab do what he needs to. You all know more about what the two jobs entail. Which position/personality will result in more impact?

  3. I'm not even sure if they know each other, but their personalities and styles seem to be different enough that they have the chance to be a pretty effective team. But because their personalities seem to be so different, they could also end up not getting along personally, and then who knows what happens.

    I'm not willing to make a prediction, especially since I haven't met either of them, but it seems to me that this is likely to be explosive, whether that means dynamic or dramatic, I'm not sure yet.

  4. The two men know each other well and will work together as a strong team.

  5. Different personalities doesn't necessarily lead to a conflict. After all, John and Paul made beautiful music together ... but then they hated each other's guts.

  6. OMG, did someone really just compare Michaels and Barab to the Beatles? That's hilarious. My perception is that the front office (pre DM) lacks adult supervision. I suspect many many many folks would agree and can recount their own stories. Hopefully, DM will be able create at least a sense of civility. Just my opinion.

    Keep in mind that Michaels was a key player at SKAPP ( which is a Soros funded and trial lawyer funded clan. I don't think I have to take it any farther in that regard. Obvious.

    As for reading his book, keep in mind that you are getting a controversial one-sided part of the story.

  7. And Foulke worked for Jackson Lewis, a notorious anti-labor law firm (look up EnerSys v Jackson Lewis), before he came to OSHA.

    I trust Michaels' science more than I trust Foulke's law.

    As for the Beatles reference, just Let It Be.

  8. There is a big difference between ANTI-LABOR and ANTI-UNIONTHUGGERY.

  9. Their are some good unions out there. Mostly the trades. But once you start talking about the SEIU, AFLCIO, etc of the world, then you are correct -- "thuggery" is not an unfair characterization.