Biden Nominee CalOSHA Chief Doug Parker Confirmed to Head Federal OSHA

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Seyfarth Synopsis: Yesterday the Senate voted to confirm Doug Parker to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Mr. Parker previously served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Mr. Parker also served as a member of the Biden-Harris transition team, where he focused on worker health and safety issues, and has held positions as a senior policy advisor and special assistant at the Department of Labor. An attorney, Mr. Parker previously worked as in-house counsel at a labor union.

Since 2019 he has served as the Chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In his tenure at CalOSHA, the Agency has aggressively enforced an overbroad and hastily-issued COVID-19 emergency temporary standard, using COVID-19 as a vehicle to force employers to engage in widespread surveillance testing, and to legislate by regulation progressive priorities on wage and hour issues, which many believe is far beyond the scope of CalOSHa’s safety and health mission.

We anticipate Mr. Parker will pursue labor union priorities at federal OSHA, in conjunction with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, as well as aggressive enforcement on a range of controversial issues. While Mr. Parker may not have an official role in issuing a federal COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS), employers should be aware of CalOSHA’s ETS requirements, including the testing and employee benefits provisions mentioned above.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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