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On Tuesday President Obama announced his intent to nominate David Michaels as the assistant secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Michaels, an epidemiologist, is currently a research professor at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, where he also directs the Department’s doctoral program.
Prior to working at George Washington University, Michaels was nominated by former President Clinton to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health. His responsibilities included protecting the health and safety of workers, neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. In that position, according to his biography posted on George Washington University’s website, Michaels “was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. Since its enactment in 2000, The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has provided more than $4.5 billion in benefits to sick workers and their families.” In addition, Michaels oversaw the promulgation of the Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention and Nuclear Safety Management rules.
Michaels has written a book and a number of articles on workplace safety standards and contaminants, including Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, Selected Science: An Industry Campaign To Undermine An OSHA Hexavalent Chromium Standard, Scientific Evidence and the Regulatory System: Manufacturing Uncertainty and the Demise of the Formal Regulatory System (pdf), Beryllium's Public Relations Problem: Protecting Workers When There Is No Safe Exposure Level (pdf), and Manufacturing Uncertainty: Contested Science And The Protection Of The Public's Health And Environment (pdf).
Michaels earned his undergraduate degree in History at the City College of New York, and his Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology and doctoral degree in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University.