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OSHA Head Nominated and Potential COVID Regulation Moves Toward Issuance
May 05, 2021
The Biden administration has nominated Doug Parker, currently chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health ("Cal/OSHA"), as the next head of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA"). 
Parker has led Cal/OSHA since 2019 and previously served in President Obama's Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") office as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. Last fall, Parker was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team that focused on worker health and safety issues. He has also worked as a staff attorney with the United Mine Workers of America and was Executive Director of California's Worksafe, a legal services provider based in Oakland, CA.
Parker has a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from James Madison University. He was a partner at the law firm Mooney, Green, Saindon, Murphy and Welch in Washington, D.C., before serving in the Obama administration. Early in his career, he worked as a sales and marketing director in communications for the Democratic National Committee and was a staff assistant for the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.).
If approved by the Senate, Parker would be the first confirmed head of OSHA since 2016. An OSHA head was never confirmed throughout the Trump Presidency.
As Parker's nomination makes its way through the Senate, the potential of a COVID-19 regulation is gaining strength. When the Biden administration took office, it directed OSHA to examine whether an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID is necessary. The Agency did not meet the administration’s directed timeline, but reports are that a proposed COVID regulation has been drafted and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
Employers should maintain a close watch on what requirements will be imposed in the likely new regulation. Parker, as head of Cal/OSHA, implemented California’s emergency COVID safety state regulation last year.
Labor & Employment Law Mark E. Heath