Expected OSHA Nominee and Doubt, Doubt, Doubt

By August 18, 2009General, Regulations

On July 28, President Obama announced his intent to nominate David Michaels to be Assistant Secretary of Labor, heading the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we wrote at a Point of Law post, “Certitude is His Product,” Michaels writings evince his belief that businesses are always bad actors, and the activism of the  Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy he heads aligns closely with the causes of the trial lawyer machine that originally financed the group. For example, SKAPP has campaigned against bisphenol A, or BPA, a safe ingredient in many consumer plastics that the plaintiffs’ bar has worked to demonize and litigate into oblivion — but first big cash settlements.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com has now reported Michaels’ views on the Second Amendment, frequently a flashpoint in Senate confirmation hearings: “David Michaels and gun control.”

The controversial OSHA nominee and left-leaning public health advocate also seems to have strong views on firearms issues. That’s by no means irrelevant to the agenda of an agency like OSHA, because once you start viewing private gun ownership as a public health menace, it begins to seem logical to use the powers of government to urge or even require employers to forbid workers from possessing guns on company premises, up to and including parking lots, ostensibly for the protection of co-workers. In addition, OSHA has authority to regulate the working conditions of various job categories associated with firearms use (security guards, hunting guides, etc.) and could in that capacity do much to bring grief to Second Amendment values.

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The acting administrator at OSHA is Jordan Barab, formerly a senior policy advisor for the House Education and Labor Committee. Barab previously blogged at Firedoglake, a prominent and vicious leftwing blog where we find him hosting an online chat with David Michaels on June 21, 2008, “FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Michaels: Doubt Is Their Product.

Here’s how Barab starts the discussion: “I first realized the power — and evil — of the dreaded practitioners of ‘manufactured doubt’ when I was working at OSHA in the late 1990’s on the ergonomics standard.”

By “dreaded practitioners,” Barab means corporations that challenge scientific studies used against them. So corporations are “evil,” in his view.

If Michaels is confirmed, Barab will remain at OSHA as second in command.

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